key words: Middles, school admissions, police officer, CM
ASKED what is tougher — scaling the Everest or their child’s admission in an institute of choice — parents would surely choose the latter, without blinking an eye.
Each parent has some experience — an ordeal through fire — to share on this subject. Hapless parents often go for sifarish to anyone, who they think has the right contacts in the right places: politicians, bureaucrats, cops, journalists, to name a few.
A daunting task, but one that offers unique lessons of life. Not very long ago, I faced such a challenge. A friend’s son could not get through a certain school, despite rich parents and powerful connections. My ego hit the ground with a thud when my name too was added to the ‘high and mighty’ who had failed to deliver!
A Punjab SP suffered similar humiliation over his daughter’s admission. Trying again, he got ‘recommendation’ from the DC and the DIG and went in person to request the principal. He waited for over an hour outside her office. All the power and aura of his uniform melted away. He was asked to come the next day. He waited again, in civvies, when, to his astonishment, he saw an SHO simply walk into the principal’s office. The SHO noticed him when he came out of the office. Bingo, the SP’s daughter got admission. That day, he said, he understood the real meaning of the police term ‘mauke da afsar’.
The son of a senior journalist was not good in spoken English, but was proficient in his mother tongue, Punjabi. He was not selected. The exasperated father somehow managed to see the principal. After all arguments and influence failed, he begged her to listen to a story. He recounted how a Punjabi couple worked hard to educate their son and send him abroad for higher studies. The son did well and got a job there. He returned after over a decade but conversed in English. The parents cried, saying for them he was dead as they could not talk to him. “I will not discourage my son from speaking in his mother tongue as that is the language his parents and grandparents understand,” he said firmly. The son got admission.
I was never at home with the idea of using influence for admissions. Once, a colleague was tense over the admission of his daughter and believed that only a recommendation from the CM’s office will work. He got it, but was unhappy about using it for this purpose. He went to meet the principal with the letter in his pocket. “Madam, I have a letter of recommendation from the CM’s office for the admission of my child. I can get more also. But I am not comfortable with it. I don’t want to start my child’s education using influence.”
The principal smiled, admitting she was taken aback. “I have never come across such a parent. People approach us boasting of money or position. I can handle that. How do I respond to you?” she said, pausing, and adding, “Your child is admitted. With parents like you, she surely has the values to deserve it.”
Today is the Accession Day of Jammu and Kashmir. Capt Deewan, the ADC of Kashmir's last king, Maharaja Hari Singh, told me the dramatic moments of this day in 1947 when the reluctant king agreed to accede to India. This full page article was published in The Tribune on October 26, 2011. A first ever interview of the ADC, who died two years later. The late Maharaja is said to have adopted him later. Capt Deewan performed last rites of the late Maharaja some years later, instead of his son Karan Singh.
THE MAHARAJA SPURNED MOUNTBATTEN’S ADVICE
“If you do not hear Indian planes tomorrow morning, shoot me in my
sleep” is what MaharajaHariSingh told him after signing the
Instrument of Accession on October 26, recalls the Maharaja’s ADC in
conversations with JUPINDERJIT SINGH
The Maharaja with the ADC
Captain Diwan Singh was fondly described as an adopted son of Maharaja HariSingh. The last ADC to the last Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir is
now 87 years old but remembers vividly those dramatic weeks that led
to the state's accession to India. Excerpts from conversations with
him are reconstructed below :
"There was considerable talk about the options before the state, of
acceding either to India or Pakistan, in early 1947. But it acquired
urgency during Lord Mountbatten's visit to the kingdom between June 18
and June 23. I have reasons to believe that the option was officially
raised for the first time by Lord Mountbatten."
Mountbatten and the Maharaja did not discuss the issue till the second
last day of the former's six-day trip to Srinagar. On that day, Maharaja Sahib and Lord Mountbatten went on a drive together. Maharaja
sahib was at the wheels and there was no one else in the car. I was
later told that Lord Mountbatten had asked the King to join Pakistan.
"I advise you to join Pakistan," were his exact words.
We were in another car following the two of them. The Maharaja
apparently asked Mountbatten for a meeting next day, i.e. June 23 at
11 am with their entire staff to discuss the issue.
The Maharaja, however, did not go to the meeting the next day.
Instead, he handed over a letter to me for Lord Mountbatten in which
he stated that he would not be able to go ahead with the meeting. I
handed over the letter to a staff member of Lord Mountbatten. From a
distance I could hear Mountbatten shouting. He was out of my ear shot
but he was clearly fuming.
As the partition between India and Pakistan became a reality in
August, Jammu and Kashmir was on tenterhooks though the Maharaja's
heart was always with India. He would often say, "I can't send my
population to the hawks" whenever the subject cropped up.
Indeed Jinnah, the first Sadar-e-riyasat of Pakistan, tried to meet
the Maharaja twice. He first requested to meet him officially to
discuss the Accession to Pakistan but the Maharaja declined. This was
before August. Later, in September, Jinnah again wanted to spend some
days in the valley on health grounds as he was not well and claimed
doctors had advised him to rest for a few days and away from his usual
environment. But the Maharaja again declined. He could see through
Jinnah's move and was never inclined towards him.
At the same time, the Maharaja was not happy at the insistence of
Pandit Nehru to involve Shiekh Abdullah in the process. Sheikh
Abdullah was in jail at that time as he had started a Quit Kashmir
movement in 1946. The Maharaja was upset, especially after Sheikh
Abdullah hung the ruler's pictures round the neck of dogs and took out
a procession in the valley. Much later, after his release and
Kashmir's accession to India, Sheikh Abdullah wrote a letter to the Maharaja saying he was never against him personally and launched the
movement for ushering in democracy in the Valley.
Pandit Nehru of course had a soft corner for Sheikh Abdullah although
even he had to jail him later. Nehru possibly nursed a grudge against
the Maharaja who did not allow him to enter the state in 1946 when the
Quit Kashmir movement was boiling. While it is widely believed that
the Maharaja put him under arrest at Kohila bridge near Uri, the
gateway to the valley, I would like to put on record that actually
Nehru was never arrested. He was merely stopped from going to the
Valley and politely told to stay in the official guest house of the Maharaja near the bridge.
The Maharaja sent his personal cook and servants to take care of
Pandit Nehru. After a few days, Maulana Azad, the then President of
the Indian National Congress came seeking Pandit Nehru's release,
which surprised the Maharaja. I remember the Maharaja exclaim, " But
he was never arrested. He is free to go." But Pandit Nehru was furious
at not being allowed to enter the Valley and that began an unfortunate
personality clash between the two well-meaning personalities.
It is right to say that the unexpected tribal attack prompted the Maharaja to sign the Instrument of Accession with India and hastened
the process. He felt Jinnah had ditched him. It also strengthened his
belief that future of Jammu and Kashmir was secure with India and not
with Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistan already had cut off all supplies of
essential items like oil, vegetables and pulses, to India.
The Maharaja in fact had a prenomination about the attack by tribals,
which began on the night of Oct 21. On that day, the King was
scheduled to visit Bhimber Tehsil in Mirpur (now in Pakistan) and left
for the destination from Amar Palace in Jammu in the morning. However,
when he reached Jewel Chowk, a few kms from the palace, he suddenly
asked us to go to Kathua instead. Later, he flew to Srinagar in the
late afternoon. That same night tribals attacked and we learnt later
that a group of tribals were waiting to ambush him in a forest on way
The King flew to Srinagar and when we reached there by road the next
morning, everyone knew about the tribal invasion. Much to my surprise,
I saw the King in battle fatigue. He wanted to go to the front. He
asked us to get ready for battle and save the motherland. It took a
lot of persuasion by me, Brigadier Rajendra Singh and others to make
him change his mind. Brigadier Rajendra Singh, who was the Chief of
his Army, assured him that he would be leading his troops to the
I was present there. I remember an agitated Mahaharajs saying, "What
would they do to me, kill me, let them." But Brig Rajendra Singh told
him he would not be killed. "They would treat you well, force you to
sign on papers and show the world that the Maharaja has acceded to
Pakistan," the Brigadier told him.
When the tribals were close to Srinagar on Oct 25, the King had to
leave. Again it was done after much persuasion. He left on oct 25
night at 2 am with me in the car. He was quiet on the way. But the
moment we reached Jammu in the morning, he took a step out of the car,
turned his head towards Kashmir and said with melancholy, " we have
Later that day, he signed the accession. The papers were signed in the Maharaja's room in the Amar Palace. The Instrument of Accession was
signed in Hari Niwas, Jammu.
Contrary to propaganda abroad that India forcibly got the documents
after the tribal invasion, the instrument was actually signed before
Indian troops landed in Kashmir. In fact, the Maharaja had laid down a
clause (and this is well-known) that if Indian troops did not land,
the agreement would become null and void.
The Maharaja actually laid down the condition that if the Indian Army
and the Air Force did not reach the Valley the next day, the accession
would stand cancelled.
Later that night, he told me, " If you don't see or hear Indian planes
in the morning, shoot me in my sleep."
the controversies on inter-faith marriages in Kashmir
Knot at a cost
Many youngsters are going in for inter-faith and inter-caste marriages to script the
story of a new Kashmir, but this is proving costly with various communities resorting
to violence to thwart such alliances, writes Jupinderjit Singh
Photo: Kuldip Dhiman
LOVE, they say, can bridge many a gap. Therefore, a large number of second-generation Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are increasingly choosing the "bond of love" over a communal or caste one in the strife-torn valley of Jammu and Kashmir despite a violent suppression of such alliances. Many persons have either been killed in the process or been forced to kill their feelings. Many are living in hiding and many outside the state. Those who continue to live here are treated like outcastes by their communities and families. Yet, the inter-community love affairs go on.
Soon after Rajnish Sharma married a Muslim girl, Amina, he landed in lock-up and was later found dead in police custody
WEDLOCK: Soon after Rajnish Sharma married a
Muslim girl, Amina, he landed in lock-up and was
later found dead in police custody
Members of the Mahila Sangharsh Samiti demand justice in the Rajnish death case
FAIR PLAY: Members of the Mahila Sangharsh Samiti demand justice in the Rajnish death case
Photos: Anand Sharma
Even though such marriages are seen as a veiled bid to decimate the numerical strength of a community in the state, where the demand for a separate homeland is raging since decades, inter-faith marriages form an undercurrent of a new Kashmir. But are they a solution?
When Amina Yusuf of Kashmir and Rajnish Sharma of Jammu fell in love eight years ago in Gulmarg, they dreamt of a new life and a new Kashmir. A Kashmir where, like them, people from different faiths could not only dare to marry but also live together peacefully.
But that was not to be. By Amina’s own admission before the Jammu police and the media, the couple went on to marry against the wishes of the families and the diktats of their community leaders in August last year. But they could live together only for a few days. Rajnish was booked on the charge of kidnapping and forcibly marrying the 26-year-old Amina, aka Anchal Sharma post marriage.
He was "picked up" by the cops on September 29 and found dead in the Srinagar police’s custody on October 4. `A0 A judicial investigation is on in the case. Amina, after living with her in-laws for three months, returned to her parents’ house this January. Later, Amina retracted from the love affair in a statement before a Srinagar court. She claimed she had been forced to marry. The court hearing is on.
There are many others like them. "On an average, we get one such case daily in Jammu city itself. Often, it is easier to trace and catch a militant than a runaway couple," admits a senior police official requesting anonymity. "We go by the law. The girlparents file a case of kidnapping and add the charge of rape later. It boils down to the girl’s stand. If she deposes before a court that she had gone of her own will, which happens rarely, the law protects the couple," says the senior police officer.
He narrates documented tales of runaway couples being recovered from places as far off as Goa and Siliguri. "Couples elope the world all over. But in this state, it acquires far more serious proportions," he says, pointing towards the communal divide. "No community here wants its members to join another community after marriage. The community members fear that one by one, their numbers will dwindle and the demographic change can affect the separatist demand. Interestingly, parents don’t mind if their son brings a girl from another community and converts her".
"But when it comes to their daughters marrying outside the community, there is violence and bloodshed," says former DGP M.M. Khajuria. Enquiries reveal that such runaway couples are found in each colony and region of the militancy-hit state. Many are going through the painful process of having to face society. Others have settled down, albeit in isolation, after braving it all.
Many Kashmiri Pandits marrying Muslims or vice-versa are those whose parents are still living through the wounds of the separatist movement. Elders of different communities openly scoff at the suggestion that the younger generation is scripting the story of a new and mixed society that would never be able to seek division on the lines of community, caste or race.
The marriages between Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims arouse the strongest passions. "There was a time when Kashmiri Pandits marrying Dogri boys or girls was a big no-no. Now, you find hundreds of such cases," reveals a sociologist, preferring anonymity out of fear of a backlash. The case of Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims is significant. The Pandits driven out of the valley have a natural grudge against the Muslims. The latter, too, demanding a separate state for their community, are naturally averse to any such alliance. But their second generation is determined to follow the diktats of the heart.
Interestingly, the first family of the state, the Abdullahs, are the most secular. Union Minister and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah is married to a Christian. His son and serving Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is wedded to a Sikh girl. His sister is married to a Hindu, the Union Minister of State for Telecommunications, Sachin Pilot. But it isn’t smooth sailing for everyone.
"What wrong did we do?" asks Shabnam with her husband Ravi Sharma (names changed) holding her hand tightly in their two-room rented house in the city. "We are both working in a multinational company. We liked each other, respect each other’s religion and told our parents of our decision to marry. But there was a volcano of a protest. We had no option but to elope. We got married but were caught. He was booked for kidnapping but the court came to our rescue. Now, we are living happily," she says. Some even take the fight up to the Supreme Court. The case of a Muslim girl from Doda and a Hindu youth from Nagrota is a case in point.
The apex court provided security to this love-lorn couple, hounded by relatives and cops. Anjum, 19, a Muslim from Doda, and Khemraj, 24, a Hindu from Nagrota, eloped few months ago. Both belong to influential families. They are reportedly living in hiding.
The undercurrents have not escaped the eye of social observers. Dr Niharica Subash, assistant professor, sociology, Jammu University, has met 115 such couples who have crossed the social boundaries, "Couples from Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Christian families, especially the Dogris and Kashmiri Pandits, are running from their homes and marrying. Of these, a Hindu-Muslim, and specifically a Kashmiri Pandit-Muslim marriage, is a cardinal sin and
often results in violence, as happened in the Amina and Rajnish case".
Conversion after marriage becomes the main issue. The DGP remembers how a Sikh girl despite marrying a Muslim in England spent a torturous life for years. She wanted to follow her religion but there was opposition. She pulled along for a few years. But when it came to the children’s religion, she left the family.
Dr Niharica recalls her experiences in meeting two such couples, "Some Hindu girls had got converted. One of them agreed to talk to me on the condition that I wouldn’t disclose that she was originally a Hindu. She had adjusted so well in her new life". Another case was even more telling. "This woman, originally a Hindu, just refused to acknowledge that. She showed me the door, saying she was born a Muslim".
And it is not that all are living unhappily. "Ayaz and his Hindu wife are living happily in Jammu with both practising their respective religions. Even Ayaz’s sister, married to a Hindu, is living happily. Both had got their marriages solemnised outside the state in a court.
"This trend of going outside the state for marriage has been noted in most of the cases," asserts Dr Niharica, "Most of the couples I have met, married outside the state, especially in Chandigarh and New Delhi. A few return to the state. They can get married here but the repercussions would be immediate, while outside the state they can get a safe haven."
Saranjit Kaur cites from her M. Phil study on emerging trends of marriages, "There was a time when no community married out of caste or clan. But slowly, a change is coming. Dogris and Pandits are marrying, though there is opposition, but most of the parents accept the alliance once the grandchildren are born.
"The children of Kashmiri Pandits, especially those born in Jammu after migration, identify themselves with the people and culture here. They accept them, unlike their parents, who were forced to leave the valley."
The biggest opposition is to Hindu-Muslim marriages. "In Jammu and Kashmir, it is feared that such marriages can affect the majority of a population in a given area. For instance, if Hindu and Sikh girls marrying Muslims practice their faith, the Muslim majority is affected in the valley. The whole aim of the secessionist movement, or demand for leaving India for Pakistan is the rendered useless," she reasons. There is trouble for Dalit-Brahmin marriages as well. Rahul Dev of the Progressive Students Association shares the trouble he faced on marrying a Pandit girl.
He belongs to the Other Backward Classes. His wife, Rosy, is a Brahmin. Both studied law together in college. When they decided to marry, all hell broke loose." "The religious and caste lines are so deeply set. My father is an ex-serviceman. He accepted after two years that I was marrying a Brahmin girl. He still says he did not feel as much pain from the two bullets that pierced him while fighting the enemy as much he did at his son marrying outside the caste," says Rahul. "But he still doesn’t visit our house," adds Rosy.
first published in -- http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100207/spectrum/main1.htm
“Now, I can ask Jassi’s mother if our love was
such a big crime?” : Mithu (husband of Jassi)
death and threats and fake police cases to see this day”
“I survived for this day only when the killers
of my wife, Jassi, would be sent to India and face trial for her murder. I
braved death and threats and fake police cases in 17 years of struggle for
justice to see this day.”
Sukhwinder Singh alias Mithu reacting to the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision
on Friday allowing extradition of Jassi’s mother Malkiat Kaur and maternal
uncle Surjit Singh Badesha (Malkiat’s elder brother).
“Now, I can
confront Malkiat Kaur face to face and ask her why she considered her
daughter’s love for me such a big crime that she got her killed,” Mithu added,
his voice choking.
murder on June 8, 2000 by 14 contract killers,Punjab Police had charged both with conspiracy to murder Jaswinder Kaur
alias Jassi for marrying Mithu against family wishes. Police charge sheet said
both planned the conspiracy in Canada and got it executed in India.
a truck these days to earn a living and was on the road since early morning.
“The whole purpose of my existence post Jassi’s murder is to see her mother and
Uncle behind bars one day and pay for the crime,” he said.
“Jassi and I
got married with honour. Her parents may have been mad at us if I had not
married Jassi. We followed the sanctity of marriage. I am still her husband. I
have spurned hundreds of marriage offers. I want to tell her mom my love was
true and committed to Jassi in life and beyond,’ said Mithu, who did not budge
despite false police cases against him and offers to crores of ruppes and land
to withdraw his statement against Jassi’s mother and Uncle.
Jassi’s story is a well known international honour killing case which has been
subject of a movie, book anddocumentary
by the National Geogrpahic.
Hailing the verdict, Mithu laments the
Canadian government never allowed him to plead for the extradition intheir courts, “ I believe today that there is
justice in Canada. The government had stone-walled my request to visit
Canadato pursue the case,” he said.
Singh alias Mithu of Kaunke Khosa said he had weaved a life of love and
happiness with Canada-born Indian girl Jaswinder Kaur Jassi in the late 1990s.
But when they got married against the wishes of Jassi’s parents, the dream life
could be lived for a few weeks only. Both were attacked by a group of contract
killers allegedly hired by Jassi’s mother and an uncle. Jassi died. Mithu
survived, but only to live a life full of sufferings.
recently moved the two-member Justice Mehtab Singh Commission of Inquiry into
false cases registered by the Punjab Police in the last 10 years.
The range of
cases against him varies from rape, for which he spent three-and-a-half years
in jail before his acquittal, to rioting, snatching and even drugs smuggling.
He has been booked six times in different cases and has already been acquitted
who arrested me were sympathetic, but they wanted me to forget all about Jassi
and my fight for justice… I have even declined several marriage proposals
coming my way. I can’t share my love for Jassi with anyone,” Mithu told The
“Every offer of a compromise I declined
resulted in a new case against me,” he has claimed before the commission. His
application has been registered and notices have been sent to the police.
initial offer of Rs 10 lakh to the latest Rs 1.5 crore besides the ownership of
14 acres of land or a well-settled life abroad, the supporters of the accused
have promised it all to me. But I can’t trade my love for all this. I just want
Jassi’s mother and uncle to be punished for what they did to her and me,” said
Mithu. His voice trembling in between as his torrid life flashes before his
Premis” ( mainly farmers) registered their houses , shops in the name of dera on a call given to do so.
As the nation sees the frenzy of followers of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who faces a verdict in a rape case against him in Panchkula Special CBI court today, there is a history of such seeminlgy mad following of a dera head. While in 2007, three followers committed suicde when the Dera head was summoned to the court, in 2012, many of them willing gifted their small houses and shops as a gift to the dera on a call given to do so.
On October 26, 2012, about 68 followers of Dera Sacha Sauda
‘gifted’ their land, both rural and urban to a ‘Force Wing’ of the sect that has remained mired in several controversies. Next day, 45
more properties ranging from few Kanals to several acres were made in the name of a Shah Satnam Ji Green ‘S’ Welfare Force Wing of the Dera.
The total number of such sale deeds were 113.
The gift came in the time of shrinking landholdings and debt on farmers.
As many as 41 sale deeds were executed at the Tehsil office Bathinda in favour of Shah Satnam Ji Green S Welfare Force Wing of the Dera Sacha Sauda , Sirsa. Another 21 sale deeds were executed in Talwandi Sabo on that day. The Tribune had reported the development exclusively..
The process went late into the evening. Employees at the Tehsil were seen compiling the list of the sale deeded in the presence of some legal experts representing the Dera. One followere even gifted 13
acres of land.
Tehsil Sources the sale deeds were executed legally with all the requisite revenue paid
to the government.
Most of the Urban sale deeds were of Paras Ram Nagar and Lal Singh Basti in the city. The “premis” as the followers are called executed the sale deed of small to medium size plots.
Among the rural areas, most of the sale deeds were of Baluana and Rai Singh Wala villages. Tehsil sources said the “premis” said the sect Guru would give them many more land in return. The Shah Satnam Ji Green ‘S’ Welfare Force Wing is a special volunteer group constituted by the sect guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for providing disaster relief.
The “premis”(followers) who gifted land today were mainly from GehriBhagga , Chugga Kalan and Bhaagu villages in the district. Talking toThe Tribune, some of the “Premis” got quite agitated at the queries.They said they were free to give or take land. The “Premis” maintained they were not worried about the impact on financial condition of afamily if they give part or major portion of their land.
“The Dera has given us so much. Its spiritual powers ad benevolence starts from where your science and education ends. We can give everything to the Dera as what ever we have is given by it,” said
Choor Singh of Bhaagu village.
He has “gifted” one acre out of his seven acres of land. When asked if the donation would affect the annual earnings of the family he said the Dera Head would give them anything they desire, “My son is in Indian Army and my daughter is with the Punjab Police. What ever we made was because of the Dera. I can give all my land. We just want the Media to write the Truth and whatever I said.”
Mohinder Singh , another “Premi” said he has six acres out of which he has given one acre ,” It must be for someone’s good. We donate blood, ration and whever we are in trouble and need something the Dera helps. I don’t know for what purpose the land was required. I only
know I am giving it in safe hands and it will serve someone.”
A perusal of some of the sale deeds revealed that the gifted property was mainly ancestral. Some of the property was bought several years
key words: Ram Rahim, Dera Sacha Sauda, rape, dera culture
It is not
just about spirituality, subsidised food and free treatment besides equality of
all castes and humility of the management are pull factors for the followers
spirituality, there seems to be many other attractions which attract people to
become followers of the Sacha Sauda dera in Sirsa in droves.
controversial dera is hogging limelight again these days with the dera head Ram
Rahim Singh facing a verdict in a rape case against him tomorrow. Lakhs of
followers have made a beeline to Panchkula where a Special CBI court will
deliver the verdict tomorrow afternoon.
others are gathering in the worship centres called the ‘Naam Charcha Ghar’ in
Haryana and Punjab praying for the verdict in the dera head’s favour, who they
call ‘pita Ji’ lovingly.
But why so many people throng the dera and
follow the sect head who has courted several controversies besides starring in
two films based on him. He is probably the only sect head in India who has
acted in a film.
equality in the dera is one such reason. “We get mental peace in the spiritual
environment in Sirsa dera and at the various Naam Charcha houses in our city.
But above all, the dera life provides an equal status to all castes,”says Prem
Insaan, a resident of a poor colony near the Railway Station, Bathinda.
there is still so much discrimination in society on the basis of caste. “It is an
open fact that different communities and castes have their own temples and
Gurdwaras in Punjab and Haryana but in our dera all are equal. We all have one
sir name-Insaan. It means Human. The dera advocates humanity. We may be Hindu,
Sikh or anything but we have failed to end the caste divisions in the
society.In dera, the divisions are
erased,” insisted Prem Insaan.
the humble ranking of managements is an attraction. Sukhveer Insaan, a dalit
from Mansa said the dera management has devised nomenclature like Insaan to
advocate not just equality but humility also,”The managements divides state
into zones which are further divided into unit. Each unit is headed by a man
given the title Bhangi Dass. The word ‘Bhangi’is an offensive word used
otherwise for lower caste people. But when the unit head is called this, it
gives the word respect. That is why so many people of lower castes are
followers of the dera.”
subsidised food and free medicines is a huge attraction, “The dera headquarter
in Sirsa and the district units provide subsidised ration to the members. This
comes as huge boon for poor families. Unlike the government schemes like free
ration for Below Poverty Line families which are often delayed or marred with
corruption, the supply of subsidised ration is smooth and equal for all in the
dera,” said a Bathinda based Sikh follower Swaran Insaan.
followers have high concentration in Malwa region of the state. These comprise
of districts, Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa, Bathinda, Fazilka, Faridkot and
Ferozepore. Most of these are close to the Sirsa district of Haryana where the
dera headquarter is situated and thus they are influenced by the dera
activities. This region is plagued with deadly diseases like cancer apart from
knee problems due to bad quality of water. The dera offers free treatment to
“There is a
set system of providing free treatment. A Bhangi dass collects slips from
followers in his area about the ailment they are suffering from. He
co-ordinates with the dera headquarters and takes appointment. The free
treatment along with spiritual environment is a great pull for a poor patient
or others from even middle class also,” revealed a Bhangi Dass from Sangrur.
Prof. Pramod Kumar, Director
Institute for Development and Communication on mushrooming of deras
religious Babas are the poor cousins of religion. They are the schoolmaster of
subaltern poor and middle class. They have emerged as messengers of God between
the people and the God.
Not only this, these mediators of God swept away the faith of their followers
in politics, courts, government and even markets. Notwithstanding this, their
appeal amongst people is a tonic which is embraced by the political leaders.
All the political parties try to outdo each other to woo deras. On the other
hand, deras are issuing the diktat to induce people to vote according to their
faith rather than their conscience. It is violative of the secular principles
and free and fair elections. It appears that people have swallowed the
make-believe pills being traded by the political parties that the misuse of
deras is justified. In turn, these Deras and religious ‘babas’ are provided
shield against rule of law to allow them to promote their commercial
enterprise, personal leisure and also act as a medicine for poverty and
At Jagraon village, smugglers use escape routes in houses to fox police
Tribune News Service
Kul Gehna (Jagraon), May 7
Inhabitants of this “village of drug smugglers”, located close to the
Sutlej in Jagraon, are all too aware of the proverb “vanish into thin
air” as each of the 35-odd houses built in a cluster has an escape
route. The secret passage is used by criminals to escape every time the
police come calling.
More than 60 FIRs have been registered against its residents over the
past two years — nearly 200 of its 300 residents, barring children, have
been named in at least one drug smuggling case.
A web of square or circular holes of different sizes in the walls
connects each house, allowing smugglers to flee during police raids. The
smugglers move from one house to another before landing in the fields.
They then make a dash for the river, crossing it before the police can
reach them. For a well-built cop, it is difficult to follow them through
Another series of small holes in the walls are used to quickly dispose
of drugs in case of a raid. Contraband, including heroin, smack and
opium, packed in small pouches is moved from one house to another till
the police call off search.
The Jagraon police have plugged these holes in the past, but new ones reappear soon after the raids.
In a rare access to these houses, The Tribune found small gates in the
boundary walls, big enough for a child to pass through. A few days ago,
the police plugged these escape routes with bricks and locked the small
“It is literally a cat and mouse game,” says Jagraon Senior
Superintendent of Police Surjeet Singh, who ordered the plugging of
holes soon after taking charge last month. “But it is a painstaking task
as the smugglers try to be one step ahead of the police. It is not easy
for an officer to ensure the holes are plugged at all times.”
Assistant Sub-Inspector Balour Singh, who oversaw the plugging operation
recently, says he knows the “horoscope” of each family and pays them
regular visits to ensure the escape routes remain shut. “Your life is
always on the line when to visit the village. Women embrace you,
pleading for mercy or grapple as the situation warrants. Children clutch
on to your legs, restricting your movement. A number of policemen have
been injured in the process,” he says.
The house of alleged high-profile smuggler Paramjit Singh, alias Pamma,
is located right at the entry to the village. Its high walls and
air-conditioners inside point to the lifestyle he enjoys. “Most of
villagers, including Pamma, are farm labourers. Some drive
tractor-trailers for sand miners. It is hard to acquire air-conditioners
or cars from daily wages,” says the ASI.
Four other notorious smugglers belonging to the village have been on the
run ever since the new Congress government turned the heat on drug
A resident, who claims to have given up smuggling a long time ago, says
most of the village houses were “kutcha” in the beginning. “Villagers
have graduated from smuggling illicit liquor in pouches or bottles to
poppy husk in gunny bags and then opium in polythene bags. They have now
switched to the easier and more lucrative “chitta” (heroin), which can
be easily concealed in small pouches.” As “chitta” business flourished,
almost all houses were rebuilt, says the ASI.
‘Cat and mouse game’
"It is literally a cat and mouse game... It is a painstaking task as the
smugglers try to be one step ahead of the police. It is not easy for an
officer to ensure the holes in the walls are plugged at all times." Surjeet Singh, Jagraon SSPSafety exit in 35 houses
A web of square/circular holes in the walls connects each of 35 houses, allowing drug smugglers to flee during police raids
The smugglers use the route to escape into the fields and
subsequently cross the Sutlej. It’s hard for well-built cops to follow
them through the holes
Another series of small holes in the walls are used to quickly dispose of drugs in case of a raid
The Tribune tracks down weapon that changed course of history at BSF centre in Indore
Tribune News Service
Indore, November 22
Lying in oblivion for almost half a century as just another of the 294 relics at the Border Security Force’s Central School of Weapons and Tactics in this Madhya Pradesh town, Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s pistol is finally getting revered status here.
Till recently, Assistant Commandant Vijendra Singh, who imparts briefings on the history of weapons to trainees, would talk about a US-made .32 Colt rimless and smokeless pistol as a small chapter in the growth of weapons from 1531 onwards.
All that changed after a four-part series by The Tribune — based on the findings of an Indian historian in Lahore — and subsequent reportage on the possible whereabouts of the freedom fighter’s pistol.
The weapon was used in the killing of British police officer JP Saunders in Lahore on December 17, 1928, and played a pivotal part in the Lahore conspiracy case that saw Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev being hanged and attaining legendary martyr status.
Assistant Commandant Vijendra now devotes a lot of time talking about the weapon and its rich history while the trainees, including a group of DSPs on a refresher course, vie with each other to get photographed with it.
“I am overcome with emotion as I hold the great martyr’s pistol in hand. I have held so many weapons in my long career but none like this one,” says IG Pankaj, who is the director of the BSF weapons’ school.
“No one here had any idea that the pistol belonged to Shaheed Bhagat Singh,” he admits candidly.
After The Tribune furnished details of the pistol to him to look for in the BSF records, a team found an entry in an old register but an obstacle came up next to locate the exact weapon. For preservation purposes as well as for better display, all weapons in the museum are painted black. The staff had to remove the paint to find the real one. “We removed the paint and to our great joy, the number 168896 came out clearly on the barrel with matching details.”
Commandant HS Bedi and other officers of the BSF confide that the discovery of the pistol in their museum was news for them. “It is amazing. It was always here and no one knew it,” he says.
Such is the craze that the museum is witnessing an unprecedented footfall. The weapon is now kept separately in a glass case on a pedestal. But the description about its importance is yet to be displayed alongside.
“We are preparing a special place for displaying the pistol along with Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s portrait and documents at the new museum building that is under construction. We would prepare a gallery of the documents, including clippings of The Tribune that brought the weapon back from oblivion,” the IG says.
In Chandigarh, publisher Harish Jain, who has penned several books on Shaheed Bhagat Singh, can’t hide his excitement. “No photograph of the pistol is available anywhere. This is the first time it would be in public domain.” Co-author and historian Malwinderjit Singh Waraich says it would be a dream come true for him to see the pistol.
Bhagat Singh’s pistol found in BSF’s Indore museum
US-made Colt was on display along with other weapons, but there was no mention of its history
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 8
Believed to be “missing” for years, the pistol used by Shaheed Bhagat Singh to kill Assistant Police Superintendent John Saunders in Lahore on December 17,1928, has been found at the BSF’s Central School of Weapons and Tactics (CSWT) museum at Indore where it had been on display without any mention of its history.
Historians had been raising questions about the pistol. The Tribune, that recently carried a series of reports on the martyr’s court case files and the “missing” pistol and other exhibits, had found that the pistol was in possession of the Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, till October 1969.
The IG and Commandant, Pankaj, CSWT, today called up The Tribune, informing that the number of the pistol, an automatic .32 bore US-made Colt (butt number 460-m and body number 168896) “match with a pistol in our records.” The Tribune had sent him details of the pistol accessed from the files of the Phillaur academy.
“We have found it. The numbers sent match with those on the pistol. It will now be displayed with the martyr’s name,” the IG said excitedly.
The Tribune had reported two days ago that the pistol was last seen at the Phillaur academy on October 7, 1969, when it was moved, along with seven other weapons, to the CSWT, Indore. On the same day 39 years ago, a special tribunal of three judges had delivered the death sentence to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.
The pen with which one of the judges had signed the death sentence was shifted from the Police Academy to the Punjab Cultural Department and subsequently to the museum in Bhagat Singh’s memory at his native village Khatkar Kalan. But his pistol could not be traced.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Congress said, “It is not just just a weapon. It’s a symbol of our fight against oppressive (British) rule. We will bring the martyr’s pistol back to Punjab.”
Cong to seek copies of martyr’s files from Pak
Jalandhar: Congress Legislature Party chief Charanjit Singh Channi on Tuesday promised to seek copies of the files pertaining to Shaheed Bhagat Singh from Pakistan if his party comes to power in the state. Paying tributes to the martyr at Khatkar Kalan village (Nawanshahr) on the second day of his Jawani Sambhal Yatra, Channi said some of the files related to the trial of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were in the archives of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. “However, most of the record has come out through individual efforts. The researchers, not the governments, have mainly compiled his writings.” TNS
A path-breaking finding on Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Historians and Researchers on Shaheed Bhagat Singh have finally got something to cheer. The Tribune has found traces about the missing pistol used by the great freedom fighter to kill a British Police official John Sanders. The whereabouts of the pistol were not known since 1930. Anyone who can throw some further light (please contact me 9872999203; Jupinderjit Singh, Special Correspondent, The Tribune. Chandigarh) Bhagat Singh’s pistol was last seen in Phillaur 47 yrs ago Records show it was transferred to Indore, historians ask govt to trace it
Jupinderjit Singh Tribune News Service Chandigarh, November 7 Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s pistol with which he
killed Assistant Police Superintendent John Saunders in Lahore on
December 17, 1928, was last seen at the Punjab Police Academy (PPA),
Phillaur, on October 7, 1969.
The automatic .32 bore pistol of Colt US make with butt no. 460-m and
body no. 168896, was transferred to the Central School of Weapon and
Tactics (CSWT) of the BSF in Indore the same day.
However, CSWT officials said the pistol was not exhibited in their museum.
Earlier in its four-part series, The Tribune highlighted that researcher
Aparna Vaidik had, through a rare access to case files of the martyr,
found that the weapon was missing. Based on the record of 160 files
lying at Punjab State Archives in Lahore, she said the weapon could be
either at Lahore Fort, police malkhana, Gwalmandi, Lahore, or the PPA,
On its pursuit, The Tribune found the records related to the
weapon. As per a record register of the PPA, it was among the eight
weapons transferred to the CSWT on October 7, 1969.
Kuldip Singh, Director, PPA, said no reason had been given for the
transfer of the weapon. “Eight weapons, including the martyr’s pistol,
were taken to CSWT, Indore, by a BSF commandant as per our records.”
With the latest discovery, it is now known that the weapon was in India
at least in 1969. Earlier, as per the records, the weapon was given to
DSP (CID) NK Niaaz Ahmad Khan in Lahore on October 16, 1930.
Assistant Commandant Vijay Roy, CSWT, said no such weapon was displayed
in their museum at present. “We don’t have it there, but we will look
into the records. It might have been transferred to another museum,” he
Meanwhile, historians have termed it an important discovery.
Singh Sidhu, who has also authored a book on the martyr, said: “The
revelation is an important discovery. We at least know that the pistol
was in India and is within our reach somewhere. The Punjab Government
should make efforts to trace it..”
“If the pistol reached Phillaur, then the other exhibits must also be
brought here,” said Harish Jain, Chandigarh-based publisher and
researcher on Bhagat Singh. first published : November 7, 2016 .. The Tribune.