Wednesday, June 28, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Emergency and the Akalis

WHEN the entire nation is remembering the dark days of the Emergency clamped 25 years ago in India, how come the media has totally ignored the heroic role the Akalis played in challenging the might of the dictator that independent India has known? The total blackout of the Sikhs’ role vis-a-vis the Emergency is an extremely intriguing thing. The question is: why is it so?

The Akali Dal was the only political party in India which not only launched a satyagraha in opposition to the Emergency but also, during the 19 months of that dark period, sent more than 50,000 volunteers to jails.

I was at that time privy to a meeting in which Giani Zail Singh as the Chief Minister of Punjab met Sardar Parkash Singh Badal at the instance of Indira Gandhi herself with the plea that whereas the government had not arrested or harassed any Sikh leader, why the Akalis were bent upon souring relations. It was a long meeting held on June 29, 1975, in Amritsar.

Even after two hours of deliberations in which Giani Zail Singh offered several sops to the Akalis, the Dal as a whole stood firm and rejected the move of Gianiji. Not just that, they declared that from the next day onwards a satyagraha would be launched from the Golden Temple voicing their opposition to the suppression of human rights in the country.

  Accordingly, five senior Akali leaders — Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Mr Mohan Singh Tur and Mr Atma Singh — came out of the Golden Temple at the appointed time next day, raising anti-Emergency slogans. Thus, they were the first to court arrest in an organised and peaceful manner, unmindful of what the consequences could have been. In fact, this chapter of Akali morcha needs to be written in letters of gold whenever an objective history of the Emergency is chronicled.

It is, therefore, very sad that while the media has highlighted the reminiscences of many important individuals, no senior journalist or editor or TV channel has cared to make a full length story of the Akali defiance of the Emergency which means the defiance by any organised political party in India.

Let me also point out that there is some kind of discrimination prevailing in India against the Sikhs in general and the heroes of the freedom movement in particular. What gives credence to my opinion is that the Sikh sacrifices in the freedom movement have been largely ignored even by those who should know the things better. For example, how does a Sikh feel when he faces the fact that there is no painting of any Sikh hero or martyr adoring the Central Hall of Parliament.

Tarlochan Singh,
National Commission for Minorities
New Delhi

More about bovine scam

This has a reference to the news “A bovine scam” (June 14). Not only Bihar and Haryana but also most of the other states are infamous for bovine scandal. Legally milch cows and draught animals can only be transported after following a set procedure, but unproductive, disabled and emaciated cattle are dubiously transported from one state to another where slaughtering is permitted.

Twice a week hundreds of cattle are sold by Karnataka to slaughter houses in Kerala. The President of the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), UK, visited the place of weekly sale of cattle in Tamil Nadu where several thousand bullocks and cows in groups stood confused waiting for their hideous journey to beef and leather to be exported to far away countries. He is of the opinion that the export of beef and leather to other countries is the reason why the animals are so blatantly being slaughtered in India.

We can disbelieve an emotional write-up on this issue, but we cannot set aside the findings of a High Court. A Judge of the High Court of Rajasthan, while allowing the petition of the Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh and ANR versus The State of Rajasthan quashed the permit issued by the competent authority. The certificates for 3,200 cattle issued in one day by the veterinary officer to the respondents were also quashed.

The court observed that the exporters and the authorities were acting in collusion with each other. The authorities have facilitated the export by preparing thousands of cyclostyled forms comprising the application form, Veterinary Officer’s certificate and the permit into one single paper giving a complete goby to the forms prescribed under the rules. What a nexus between the competent authority, the Veterinary Officer and the exporters!

Laws and bylaws are there to check this illegal transport of animals for beef and leather, but they are followed more in breach than in observance.


Harassed passengers

The hasty decision of the authorities to shift some of the bus services from Sector 17 ISBT to ISBT-II, Sector 43, Chandigarh, has led to countless problems for passengers. No information in this regard was given to the public at large through any mode.

The affected passengers are those travelling between Chandigarh and Una, Amb, Kangra, Dharamsala, Palampur, Baijnath, Mandi, Sarkaghat, Sundernagar, Manali and certain other areas of Himachal.

Last Thursday a kin along with his family members, including children aged three, five and 12, had to suffer for hours because of this abrupt decision. He hired an auto-rickshaw from his residence to the Sector 17 ISBT. Reaching the booking counter, he was curtly told to board a waiting CTU bus to ISBT-II. He had to pay Rs 7 per head for this “forced” ride.

Random interaction with the affected passengers revealed that at times they had to hire an auto-rickshaw to catch a bus of their choice. Ironically, though, by the time my kin reached ISBT-II, the bus had already left. With no obvious option available, the beleaguered kin had to wait for the next bus in the sizzling heat, with no arrangement for drinking water, no eatables, fruits, tea, etc at the new bus stand. To top it all, there is no STD facility also there.

Sources in the department confirm that all buses operating between Chandigarh and the above-said destinations are available from ISBT-II between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. and from the Sector 17 ISBT between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. But it is a matter of concern that the authorities concerned have done nothing to meet a situation where a passenger, who fails to catch the last available bus, gets stranded at the new site.


Plight of HP pensioners

With the adoption of the Pay Commission report, pay scales were revised from 1-1-1996 and pensions were also revised accordingly. It resulted in the hike of pensions of all the pensioners except those who retired between 1-1-1996 and 30-9-1996. They had to suffer a huge loss in their revised basic pension from 1-1-96 due to a serious anomaly in the calculation criteria. So much so that their revised basic pension is much less than that of the employees in the same grade and same stage who had retired before 1-1-1996 and also from those who retired after 30.9.96. The other pensioners got arrears, but these unfortunate people had to face recoveries.

On persistent demands from pensioners’ associations the Central Government removed the anomaly with its notification dated October 18, 1999, and provided the much-needed relief to Central government pensioners.

Now the Punjab Government has also followed suit by its notification dated 5-5-2000, that too despite financial stringencies. This gesture of the Punjab Government is praiseworthy.

The Himachal Government pensioners, particularly the Himachal Pensioners’ Kalyan Sangh, have been repeatedly requesting the state government to rectify the anomaly to enable them to receive the enhanced pension in their life-time. Needless to say, some unlucky ones have already died while patiently waiting for their arrears.

It is also not out of place to mention here that some pensioners are suffering from serious and chronic diseases, and the timely payment of the revised pension may save their valuable lives.

Arki (Solan)


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