Monthly Archives: JULY 2017


AAP MLA from Rupnagar booked for assault on landlady
29.07.17 - team pt
AAP MLA from Rupnagar booked for assault on landlady



The Punjab Police on Saturday registered a case against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator from Rupnagar Amarjit Singh Sandoa after a woman alleged that he assaulted and molested her.
 
A case was registered against Amarjit Singh Sandoa, MLA from Rupnagar seat, under various sections of IPC including 354 (intent to outrage modesty of woman), 323 (Voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (Criminal intimidation), Senior Superintendent of Police Raj Bachan Singh Sandhu said.
 
The victim, the landlady of a house where the legislator earlier lived, told the police in her complaint that the AAP leader assaulted and molested her when she went to Sandoa's house on Friday evening to claim the remaining rent, which he allegedly did not pay.
 
Sandoa had allegedly taken the house of the woman on rent in November 2016 to use it as his election office and he vacated it in April this year. He had agreed to pay Rs 30,000 per month, the woman claimed. The woman in her complaint alleged that Sandoa had not paid the rent and the electricity bill of the house and also caused damage to the structure.
 
 

In her complaint, she said Sandoa owed her Rs 2.50 lakh and alleged that the MLA was not paying the amount. The woman claimed that she even approached AAP state unit president Bhagwant Mann and co-president Aman Arora to get her dues paid but to no avail.
 
Sandoa, who lives near his old residence, however, refuted the allegations. He said he had to pay Rs 15,000 against the electricity and water and sewerage bills to his former landlady. He said she had come to his house on Friday evening with a man. He claimed that he gave a cheque to her, which she allegedly did not accept and left the house without saying anything.
 
He alleged that it was a political conspiracy against him so that he may not contest next elections from Rupnagar seat.
 
Sandoa, a political greenhorn who used to be a taxi driver in Delhi, had made headlines in March when he trounced Punjab's Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema in the Rupnagar assembly segment.

Meanwhile, SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema demanded immediate arrest of Sandoa.




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The Tribune editor suggests separate GST golak
24.07.17 - PT Bureau
The Tribune editor suggests separate GST golak



CHANDIGARH: IN a comment that can only be interpreted as rather brazen and casual, Harish Khare, Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune group of newspapers, has suggested that the Sikh community, currently seeking exemption from GST, may place "separate GST golaks" in gurdwaras instead of asking for relief from the Centre.

In his widely-read Sunday column, Kaffeeklatsch, Khare wrote that since the "government cannot possibly make an exception in the case of one religious institution...(p)erhaps, there can be a separate ‘golak’ for GST?"

A golak is a collection box invariably kept in front of the holy Sikh scriptures, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, and devotees are free to deposit any amount they can afford - from one paisa to lakhs or crores. The Sikh community takes pride in its gurdwaras and shrine managements never forcing any devout visitor to make any offering. The money thus collected is considered sangat's contribution meant solely for purposes in keeping with the religion's principles.

Khare's idea that the devotees be asked to contribute an amount equivalent of the GST has riled many Sikh scholars who consider the idea preposterous and made in utter disregard of a community’s sensitivities.

On his part, Khare followed up the suggestion by calling it an "out-of-the-box idea," which, he said, "calls for (a) coffee."

In today’s (Monday’s) edition of Punjabi Tribune, Khare’s freewheeling column was published in Punjabi that made the same argument, betrayed Khare’s own opposition to the GST exemption for langar since he said the government cannot grant such relief to any one religious organisation, and then went on to describe his "out-of-the-box” idea. Savour his words, verbatim, though these may render your brewed cup a little too bitter: "ਇਸ ਦੀ ਬਜਾਏ ਇਹ ਸਲਾਹ ਦਿੱਤੀ ਗਈ ਹੈ: ਸ਼ਰਧਾਲੂਆਂ ਨੂੰ 17 ਫੀ ਸਦੀ ਵਧੇਰੇ ਦਾਨ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ ਕਿਓਂ ਨਾ ਕਿਹਾ ਜਾਵੇ? ਸ਼ਾਇਦ, ਜੀ.ਐੱਸ.ਟੀ. ਲਈ ਵੱਖਰੀ 'ਗੋਲਕ' ਵੀ ਲਾਈ  ਜਾ ਸਕਦੀ ਹੈ! ਇਹ ਤਾਂ ਇਕਦਮ ਵਿਲੱਖਣ ਵਿਚਾਰ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਇਸ ਤੇ ਤਾਂ ਕੌਫ਼ੀ ਪੀਣੀ ਬਣਦੀ ਹੈ। ਆ ਜਾਓ, ਮੇਰੇ ਨਾਲ ਕੌਫ਼ੀ ਦਾ ਪਿਆਲਾ ਸਾਂਝਾ ਕਰੋ।" 
 
 
It will be interesting to see which section or leaders of the Sikh community will take up Khare’s offer for some caffeine. The Tribune’s editor-in-chief, who had earlier left the profession to take up the (more exalted?) job of Media Advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier rubbed the Sikh community the wrong way with his suggestion in the same column that the Sikhs should "permit” a closure on the issue of 1984 massacres. 
 
Arguing that "on the eve of every Lok Sabha election, a few ‘investigative’ journalists come up with ‘new evidence’,” Khare had even blasted "the Phoolkas of this world,” who he said have "made a career — and, now an electoral career” out of pursuing 1984 cases.

A senior SGPC member said the community leaders find themselves in a quandary when it comes to taking up cudgels with editors of powerful and mass circulation newspapers as they fear being blacked out. He cited the recent case of the Hindustan Times publishing a graphic illustration of a Sikh lighting up a cigar pressed between his lips and the refusal of the newspaper to remove it from the website despite apologising for it. "These are newspapers with massive circulations and we have seen how news items and concerns of the community can be sidelined if one as much as squeaks out,” he said.

 
(For a detailed report on the Hindustan Times' publication of the objectionable illustration, please click here)
 
 
 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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Comment by: Iqbal singh

There won't be any gst on donation made by public but there will be gst on Prasad sold by Gurudwara. Only thing we should worry about is : are accountants of Gurudwara trained for this gst. E.g.1) Keeping account of gst dockets so that it can be claimed later on. 2)will government pay us pay if amount of gst paid by Gurudwara is more than amount of gst collected.

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Punjab’s New Normal of Public Protest
21.07.17 - Nischay Pal
Punjab’s New Normal of Public Protest



IT IS INCONVENIENT to be unemployed; utterly so when you are faced with a dispensation that refuses to see the inconvenience of it. Hundreds of teachers in Punjab who find themselves either unemployed, or underemployed, have intermittently been climbing water tanks to protest.
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Every age sees a new normal of display of public protest. The politics of resistance has always had iconic forms: from pre-Independence non-violent gatherings, morchas and jathas to post-Independence rallies at Delhi’s Boat Club, pad-yatras, and then a culture of burning effigies, destroying public property, damaging buses, blocking roads and railways, finally culminating in gherao of the Assembly building or the CM’s house. For some time now, the people in Punjab have been speaking to the state from rather commanding heights. Welcome to the Tank Top Protest. Every aggrieved group of citizens has been climbing water tanks across Punjab, a new normal of display of public protest.
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Protesters climb water tanks after exhausting the standard set of tools: appeals to the babudom’s good sense, dharnas, sit-ins in front ministers’ houses, being hauled to the nearest police station. Finally, a time comes to take that step, reach for the sky, or at least the tank top.
 
Years after a 27-year-old Kiranjit Kaur of Kapurthala decided that the government needs to be shown some light and climbed atop a 100-feet high water tank, equipped with a bottle of kerosene, the form of protest continues to be the favourite of many with a grievance. 
 
Kiranjit had ignited herself, but failed to ignite a debate over the paradigm of governance. Her last interface with the regime was a local police officer who had taunted her for indulging in drama. The theatre of the absurd is now a routine vaudeville act.
 
The ubiquitous water tank has now been permanently etched into the people’s collective memory as a launch pad for a thousand demands, and with hundreds of thousands having many bonafide demands, the state doesn’t have enough policemen to secure all the watertanks.
 
Across Punjab, administrators now pay special attention to deployment of cops to guard access to water tanks. Cops, the regime has calculated, cost less than good governance.
 
 
In each case, the government poses as if it has a justifiable defence, forgetting that at the end of the day, this is a failure to deliver the simplest of expectations: a job, some work. The people are speaking to the state in the grammar of violence, and the state is talking back in the same idiom. With thousands of cops, obviously the state will speak the language of violence louder. Pushed, the people are shrieking back, and climbing water tanks.
 
Iconic forms of protest keep evolving, each deadlier than the past forms. In Kashmir, they have stones. In the north-east, they have bandhs, towns under siege. The new normal of climbing atop water tanks will soon be, or already is, just staple news. With regimes of any political colour hardly listening, one shudders to think what the next form of public protest will be.
 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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PUNJAB’S POLITICAL CABLE CONNECTION
The Fastway Route to a Dream Job: Race on, Game on
21.07.17 - Kamjaat Singh
The Fastway Route to a Dream Job: Race on, Game on



CHANDIGARH: Usually, it takes longer, but in Punjab, the race to be the next Chief Minister has started before the Amarinder Singh government had even completed 100 days!

Since the Patiala royal announced even before the hustings that 2017 was to be his last election, the game is wide open right at the beginning.

And given Captain's history and luggage with the top Congress leadership, particularly with the party’s number two (one?) Rahul Gandhi, a minor skirmish can any day turn into a public spat, or an eyeball to eyeball situation, and one will have to blink. You know who it will be. Ambitious young leaders in the party want to position themselves as the next best choice, so it is game on!
 
And it is being played on turfs other than that of a leadership competition. Manpreet Singh Badal's frequent statements on one or the other issue, clearly made without pre-consultation with the party or the Chief Minister, are calculated moves to establish himself as a leader in his own reckoning. These are also in keeping with his quintessential mode of politics.

Afraid that his profile is being overshadowed by the Finance Minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu is on a roll these days, trying to emerge as the man who can directly take on not just the Akalis but the Badal Parivar itself.

In this pursuit for a special and taller pedestal has emerged the latest hot-button issue of Fastway Cable. After a gap of every 24 hours, Sidhu, the Minister for Local Bodies, issues one or the other statement against the so called cable mafia, but his singular target remains Fastway, and by proxy Sukhbir Singh Badal and family, and by another proxy – it is time to say it – Amarinder Singh.
Sidhu is on a roll, projecting himself as the man fighting to extract hundreds of crores of taxes that cable mafia evaded, as the man taking on the House of Badals, as someone who is available, accessible to the media. Amarinder is coming across as the exact opposite.
 
Every few hours, journalists manage to buttonhole CM Amarinder Singh and reference a Sidhu comment, reducing him to offer soundbytes that hardly seem to have the kind of sting that Sidhu packs in.

We will end the cable mafia, says Sidhu. We will welcome all kinds of media to ensure a competitive environment in cable domain, says Amarinder Singh.

We are not into vendetta politics, says Amarinder Singh. We will make Fastway pay the state hundreds of crores in taxes that it evaded, says Sidhu. There is no plan to censor Fastway or PTC, says Amarinder. Fastway will have to pay taxes in the next five days, says Sidhu.

Amarinder is limiting himself to saying that if there is an irregularity and if tax is evaded, his government will take action. Sidhu ensures that he is seen in the action mode every day.

Rather, in super-action mode. At a press conference on July 6, he tagged along a former tax officer CL Goel to buttress his claim that taxes worth Rs 2,618 crore have been evaded, that undue CENVAT refund was availed, that Fastway did not refund security amount on set-top boxes, that it cancelled invoices worth crores, that it used local government department's properties to string cables and dug roads etc but did not pay the required fee to the state government.

With every statement, with every press conference, Navjot Singh Sidhu is seen fighting for more hundreds of crores. He is seen as fighting more passionately to bring back the money from the House of Badals. He is seen as a man in action. He is available, he is accessible to the media, he takes questions, he gives pointed replies, and he makes headlines.

The Chief Minister is seen as the guy who is not doing even a fraction of what Sidhu is doing when it comes to fixing the Badals. Or fixing the cable mafia, sand mafia, liquor mafia. Amarinder is seen as the guy who did not fire Rana Gurjit Singh after an employee of the minister walked away with crores worth of sand mining bids. Neither Manpreet, nor state Congress president Sunil Jakhar nor headline maker Sidhu defended the CM.

Instead, Sidhu underlines the difference by saying there is none. Invariably, he refers to the CM in these press interactions to reiterate that he has spoken to the CM and the CM has given him a free hand to pursue this noble cause. That keeps him safe from allegations that he is dragging the CM into mud. In fact, he gives CM the credit.
 We will end the cable mafia, says Sidhu. We will welcome all kinds of media to ensure competition, says Amarinder. We are not into vendetta politics, says Amarinder. We will make Fastway pay up hundreds of crores, says Sidhu. There is no plan to censor Fastway or PTC, says Amarinder. Fastway will have to pay taxes in the next five days, says Sidhu.
 
It is just that the CM is simply not seen leading the good fight. He is seen as a helpless leader condemned to watch his junior walking away with the glory.
 
Sample this latest from Sidhu: "I have suspended four executive engineer rank officers for executing development works worth Rs 500 crore without sanction and proper procedures, and I have recommended that three IAS Commissioners of Municipal Corporations in Punjab be issued chargesheets. Only the CM can issue these chargesheets. I have written to the CM." 

So far, Amarinder has not said a word, and no one in the CMO plans to rush to issue chargesheets to senior IAS officials. You know how Sidhu wants people to interpret this. From the sidelines, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) headline makers Sukhpal Singh Khaira and Bhagwant Mann will incessantly keep interjecting that Amarinder was hand in glove with the Badals. Sidhu’s strategy plugs into that conspiracy plot.

As Amarinder is taking his time, Sidhu is projecting himself as a man impatient to implement his agenda, even if it is Fastway centric. Now he has directed his Local Bodies' officials to recover the evaded tax from Fastway "within five days."

Five days? That is much faster than the promise to bring back black money from abroad in 100 days. But that promise hurt Modi less. This one will hurt Amarinder more. After all, if the government fails to make Fastway pay up crores of taxes it evaded, whose fault will it be? "Blame the silent," will be Sidhu's war cry, and you can be sure he has several Urdu couplets up his sleeve already to make his point.

 Manpreet Singh Badal will have his own Urdu couplets, of course. His budget has not really painted Amarinder Singh in glowing hues. Amarinder's farm loan waiver claim fell flat when Manpreet reeled out the figure of Rs 1,500 crore he has kept aside to fulfil Amarinder Singh's most famous promise to farmers.

In a few weeks, Amarinder Singh is set to emerge as the CM who is seen going back on his word, time and again. He said he will waive off farm debts. Now he is reduced to saying he has waived off crop loan debt of up to Rs 2 lakh of farmers with up to 5 acres of land. He said he will waive off Aarhtiya debt. Now he is appealing to the Aarhtiyas not to loot the farmers. He said sand prices will come down crashing. These did not. He said every family is going to get a job. Well, as of now, even those on the water tank tops have not got one.

Farmers are planning protests. Aarhtiyas are honouring the CM as Fakhr-e-Quom. By accepting the honour, the CM is sending signals that are likely to gladden the hearts of his rivals within the party.

Sunil Jakhar is biding his time. He has a most coveted post in Punjab, and he knows when to make his move. More importantly, he is not making any move to make Amarinder Singh look good.

Every passing day is giving racers a new lap to run. The latest is an Adventure Drive in an eco-sensitive zone on the outskirts of Chandigarh, a tourism ministry’s venture.

When every piece of wisdom said it was a foolish idea, amounted to a violation of environmental norms, was clearly against the law and one seemed designed to bring in more visitors to a Sukhbir Singh Badal-owned resort near the adventure venue, Navjot Singh Sidhu, also Punjab's Tourism Minister, quipped – My department is doing it because the CM gave directions to do it. 

"Captain Amarinder Singh sent me the file and also asked me to attend the rally...I am just following orders."

Translation: If I am doing something pertinently illegal, you should know that the CM asked me to. When I am trying to implement the law against Fastway even when CM is going slow, you should know that I am proactive than my leader in fighting the Badals.

But will Sidhu find his way along the Fastway super highway to his dream job in Punjab? Remember that there are others, too, who had the same dream. And they all know a few Urdu couplets.
 

*(Kamjaat Singh is an academic activist who also dabbles in journalism and writes under this pseudonym. The author, whose interests encompass politics, media, communication, academics, law, cinema etc., will be writing regularly for Punjab Today, and can be reached at kamjaatsingh@gmail.com.)

 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT




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Harsimrat to Jaitley: Exempt langar purchases from GST
21.07.17 - PT Bureau
Harsimrat to Jaitley: Exempt langar purchases from GST



 NEW DELHI: Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has taken up cudgels with her colleague in the Council of Ministers, Arun Jaitley, making a case for exempting purchases made for langar from GST, but kept her demand for such exemption limited to only Sri Harmandir Sahib and three Sikh takhts located in Punjab.

It was not clear whether the decision of the Minister of State for Food Processing to not argue for a similar relief for other historical gurdwaras and two Takhts outside Punjab was a thought-through decision or a mere oversight.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, forwarded a letter from SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar, making a similar plea, to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
With such a move, Harsimrat is also following in the footsteps of her late mother-in-law, Surinder Kaur Badal, who spent later years of her life in serving the cause of langar at Sri Harmandir Sahib.
 
Explaining the immense importance of "langar", and the fact that "Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar runs the worlds’s largest mega kitchen, offering free meals throughout the year to lakhs of people," Harsimrat also underlined that the great tradition is funded with money that "comes from the humble offerings of devotees."

With such a move, Harsimrat is also following in the footsteps of her late mother-in-law, Surinder Kaur Badal, who spent later years of her life in serving the cause of langar at Sri Harmandir Sahib. She used to take a keen interest in the "langar sewa" and widely toured Punjab's towns and villages to inspire people to participate in this institutionalised form of 'sewa'.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal also pointed out that "even in the erstwhile VAT regime, the langar purchases (were) never subjected to VAT."
 
Here is the complete text of Hasimrat Kaur Badal's letter to Arun Jaitley:
 

Respected Shri Arun Jaitley ji,

 

 I am forwarding the letter of Prof. Kirpal Singh ‘Badungar’,  President, Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee for granting exemption from G.S.T.  Act for purchases related to Langar and other items for Gurudwaras.

 

You are aware that the concept of Langar and Community Kitchen was started by Sri Guru Nanak Devji in 1481 to propagate the principle of equality in society regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status. Serving Langar to all is the best example of community sharing, inclusiveness and oneness of all mankind.

 

Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar runs the worlds’s largest mega kitchen, offering free meals throughout the year to lakhs of people, donation for which comes from the humble offerings of devotees which is spent on distributing free Langar.

 

Even in the erstwhile VAT regime, the Langar purchases have never been subjected to VAT. Notification no.S.O.27/P.A.8/2008 dated 15 April, 2008 of Government of Punjab exempted Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar and also separate notifications exempting Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Takhat Sri Anandpur Sahib, Ropr and Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda from payment of VAT. Such exemption would not be available from 1st  July, 2017.

 

The new G.S.T. Act (section 11 of G.S.T. Act & section 6 of I.G.S.T Act) also provides for exemption to be granted to various  institutions/businesses eligible for same in the eyes of the Government on the recommendation of G.S.T. Council.

 

Presently procurement of Langar items like Desi Ghee, Sugar and Pulses by SGPC runs into roughly Rs.75 crores annually which will now be under the G.S.T. bracket of 5 to 18 percent, thus, increasing the financial burden by Rs.10 crores on Gurudwaras,

 

 I humbly request you to kindly have this examined for grant of exemption to the Langar purchases made by Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar, Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Takhat Sri Anandpur Sahib, Ropar and Takhat Sri Damdama Sabo, Bathinda under G.S.T. so that the Gurudwaras may not be burdened for providing Langar and serving humanity.

 

With regards,

Yours sincerely

 

(HARSIMRAT KAUR BADAL)

 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged. 
— Team PT




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