Saturday, May 12, 2001,  Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sikh MPs group on the cards
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 11
An apolitical pressure group of Sikh MPs, irrespective of their ideology and party affiliation, is expected to be formed by the end of this month to lobby with the Centre for protecting the interests of the minority community.

There is a growing feeling among the Sikh community that it has become imperative for Sikh parliamentarians and other eminent personalities to close ranks in liaising with the Union Government for the redress of their non-political, humanitarian and other genuine grievances.

The idea of having a highly representative Sikh group was thrown up by the Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Tarlochan Singh, in his individual capacity. Mr Tarlochan Singh wrote letters to all 21 Sikh members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on April 11, underlining the need for such a ginger group devoid of politics.

Barring the odd opposition to the creation of an apolitical Sikh group of MPs, the proposal has been widely welcomed. Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, senior Congress leader and former Union Finance Minister Manmohan Singh, besides Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Mr Buta Singh, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and Mr K.S. Duggal, among others, have unequivocally supported the proposal.

As is only to be expected, constituting a pressure group of Sikh MPs has been strongly opposed by former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Lok Bhalai Party chief B.S. Ramoowalia and Mr Sant Ram Singla.

Mr Tohra emphasised that the proposed Sikh group was an exercise in futility because Sikhism was dying out among the Sikh MPs. Besides, he alleged that Sikh MPs did not consider themselves as Sikhs any longer.

Mr Ramoowalia warned that setting up a pressure group of Sikh MPs was fraught with danger and went against the spirit of the Constitution. He was apprehensive that the proposed group would isolate the community on communal lines. Mr Singla firmly believed that no Sikh MP should join any such group.

Mr Tarlochan Singh asserted that his initiative was strictly non-political. Regretting that since Independence there had not been any joint meeting of Sikh MPs to ponder over the problems of the Sikh community and suggest remedial measures, he said such a grouping had assumed importance and become a necessity because of various other pressure groups in Parliament. Division among the Sikh community and intense politicisation of burning issues had been a major bane in resolving humane problems, he said.

He maintained that the group of Sikh MPs would steer clear of politics and take up with the Central leadership a plethora of issues hanging fire. These include the scrapping of the black list of Sikhs, the setting up of a Canadian consulate in Chandigarh, providing succour and citizenship to an estimated 25,000 Sikh refugees from Afghanistan, ensuring representation to the Sikh community in the Supreme Court, Union Public Services Commission and various state-owned corporations, and according proper status and recognition to Punjabi.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said he was writing letters to all Sikh MPs to fix a date and time convenient to them for attending the meeting to work out the modalities for setting up the group. With Parliament in recess, the first meeting of the group of Sikh MPs might take place by the end of this month.

Amritsar sizzles at 46.9C

Chandigarh, May 11
The heat wave continued unabated in most of the northwest region today with the mercury shooting to 46.9C in Amritsar and 46.1C at Halwara. There may be little respite for the people over the next few days.

The day temperature in Amritsar shot by nine degrees above normal to touch 46.9C. Patiala, too, had a hot day at 42.5C, three degrees above normal.

The city, which had the hottest day of the season so far yesterday at 43C, was today a bit cooler at 40.5C.

However, the highest-ever temperature recorded in Chandigarh till date was on May 28, 1988, when the mercury soared to 46.5C, the Director of the Meteorological Department here, Mr S.C. Bhan said. The average of the highest temperatures for May in the city taken from 1993 comes to 43C.

Mr Bhan said the highest maximum recorded in Punjab was in Bathinda when the temperature shot up to 48.2C on May 30, 1976. Amritsar followed closely at 47.7C on May 21, 1978. Patialas 46.7C way back on May 27, 1954, has been the highest so far.

Hisar in Haryana, which often turns the hottest place during the summer season, saw the mercury rise to 48.3C on May 30, 1944. Ambala sizzled at 47.8C on May 29, 1954. Karnal recorded its highest on May 29, 1962 at 46C, Mr Bhan added.

In Haryana, Hisar continued to face the oppressive heat wave at 46.5C which was six degrees above normal. Ambala, however, had some respite at 41.1C.

Ludhiana in Punjab had the seasons hottest day so far at 44.9C, four degrees above normal.

Shimla, too, could not escape the fury of the heat. The maximum today rocketed to 30.7C, eight degrees above normal. Other hot places in the state were Bhuntar with a high of 38.7C and Sundernagar 39.7C, eight degrees above normal. UNI

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