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Khalistan movement reviving in Punjab: Congress MP

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By Brajendra Nath Singh  

New Delhi: Congress parliamentarian from Ludhiana, Ravneet Singh Bittu, said on Monday that the terrorist attack in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district was an attempt to revive the Khalistan movement in the state and urged the Punjab and central governments to immediately take necessary steps to stop it.

“The terrorist attack in Gurdaspur is a very serious threat to the nation. Since the last few months, there have been attempts to revive the Khalistan movement but the state and central agencies were continuously ignoring it. After this attack, both the Centre and state governments should act tough against such elements,” Bittu told IANS.

He said that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, Khalistani and other terrorist groups have joined hands in support of the Khalistan movement.

“Yesterday (Sunday), pro-Khalistan slogans were raised in front of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. For the last few months, these activities have increased but were not dealt with properly by both the governments,” he added.

Bittu said that the “wrong policies” of the state and central governments gave an opportunity to Khalistan supporters to revive their movement.

“The central government is shifting terrorists lodged in different parts of the country to Punjab. There was no need for it. Why are terrorists from Bengaluru and Bareilly being shifted to Punjab jails,” asked Bittu.

The Congress leader also accused the Badal government in Punjab of “adopting soft approach” towards Surat Singh Khalsa, who is on a hunger strike since January this year to seek permanent release of Sikh political prisoners.

He said that bowing to the demands of Surat Singh, the Punjab government had released many political prisoners and this mistake of the government had boosted the morale of Khalistan supporters.

He demanded that the Punjab government immediately end its soft approach towards Surat Singh Khalsa and try to end his hunger strike.

Bittu said that he will soon meet union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and present the related facts to him. He also said that he will request the home minister to visit Punjab to take stock of the rising activities of the Khalistan supporters.

The Congress parliamentarian said that it was wrong to link the terrorist attack in Gurdaspur to the Mumbai serial blast convict Yakub Memon’s impending hanging.

“It will be a mistake to link the Gurdaspur terror attack to Memon. I am from Punjab and I know what is going on there. If the government doesn’t learn lessons from this attack, the situation in Punjab is going to become worse,” he said.

He said Punjab needed to be more alert and vigilant. “We have seen the darkest decade not long ago and lost thousands of precious lives and we cannot afford that again,” he warned.

(IANS)

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BJP Offers Christians a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Is Religious Pilgrimage A New Playground For The Political Parties?

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community

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In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
  • The political parties (BJP and Congress ) are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage in the coming local elections of the eastern states of India
  • The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively
  • After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022

The Campaign promises during the elections times are quite bizarre nowadays, from “I’ll cut your taxes,” to “vote for me, and I’ll set you free.”

In the coming local elections in the Christian- majority state of Nagaland in India the agenda by the rival BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Congress parties are unique: “Vote for us and get either a free or a heavily subsidized pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”

Yes, you read it right. The political parties are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage. The offer has been put up by the Prime Minister Modi- led BJP for the upcoming elections. Even the local partners of the Congress party are treading up the same path.

Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

The BJP has not made it clear yet if it is offering the scheme to all of India’s Christians, or only to Christians in the northeast, or only to Christians in Nagaland. The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively. Nagaland is one of smallest states of India, with the population of just under two million people.

Also Read: Muslim women can now travel for Haj without Mahram

As per the Tourism Ministry figures, around 58,000 Indian tourists came to Israel in 2017, a 47% increase from 2015.

The elections are scheduled for the February 27 in three northeastern states – Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura – later this month.

The AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi also tweeted on the double standard of the government and lashed out at the government for its discriminatory decision, ending Haj subsidy but allowing subsidies to continue for Hindu pilgrimages like the Mansarovar Yatra.

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community. But recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. The government cited the reason for the subsidy withdrawal as they wanted to utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for the education of minorities, particularly girls. After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022.

Also Read: Government ends Haj subsidy as part of a new policy

The scheme is a clear cut example of hypocrisy and opportunism, especially considering the cancellation of Haj subsidies. It seems quite contrary, on the one hand, the government is cutting down the benefit scheme for one section of the society and on the other hand, some other community is been offered the same thing. Such moves bring out the double standards of the political parties just for the sake of vote bank. In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented.

In 2011, Nigeria also did something same as that of India. For many years, their government financed a trip to Mecca for Muslims, leading to some 42,000 Nigerians visiting the country. But with the change in the government, subsidies have been cut considerably and now a 12-day pilgrimage costs around 2000 dollars. The change in stance has resulted in 78% decrease from 2011.