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Punjab asks Haryana to handover farmer undergoing treatment in Rohtak

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Chandigarh, Feb 24 (IASNS) Punjab Chief Secretary Anurag Verma on Saturday wrote to his Haryana counterpart Sanjeev Kaushal, asking to handover a Punjab farmer who is undergoing treatment in Rohtak.

In the letter, Verma said it has come to notice that Pritpal Singh, a farmer from Punjab who was injured during the ‘Dilli Chalo’ protest march, is undergoing treatment at the PGI Rohtak.

“You are requested to handover Pritpal Singh to Punjab authorities so that his treatment may be done in Punjab free of cost by the Punjab Government,” says the letter.

–IANS

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As US delegation heads to Dharamsala, Tibetans pin hopes on Biden-Dalai Lama meeting

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Dharamsala, June 16 (IANS) As a high-level bipartisan US congressional delegation, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, is visiting India this week to have an audience with the Dalai Lama, in support of Tibet, the administration in exile is pinning hopes on a meeting between the Nobel Peace laureate and US President Joe Biden during the former’s visit to America starting June 20.

The US congressional meeting with representatives of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), also known as the Tibetan government in exile, is likely to provoke a diplomatic protest from Beijing, which regards “the Dalai Lama as a separatist and sees any foreign official contact with him an infringement of its sovereignty”.

Apart from meeting the spiritual leader, the US delegation will meet with Indian government officials and the American business community to strengthen relationships.

The visiting delegation comprises former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gregory W Meeks, House Rules Committee Ranking Member Jim McGovern, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific Ranking Member Ami Bera, and Congresswomen Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Nicole Malliotakis.

In India, the delegation is expected to meet the Dalai Lama, 88, in McLeodganj — a small and quaint hill station in the suburbs of Dharamsala overlooking the Himalayas — on June 18-19.

CTA officials told IANS the proposed visit is the most significant contact since the Dalai Lama met the then President Barack Obama in Washington in 2016.

“India is the world’s largest democracy and an important strategic partner of the United States,” said McCaul in a statement.

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“I look forward to meeting with government officials and the American business community to learn how we can continue to strengthen our relationship with India. I am also honoured to have the opportunity to meet with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Tibetans are a democracy — loving people who wish to practise their religion freely.

“This visit should highlight the bipartisan support in the US Congress for Tibet to have a say in their own future.”

“I look forward to joining Chairman McCaul and Speaker Emerita Pelosi to demonstrate the strong bipartisan support for the US-India relationship,” stated Ranking Member Meeks.

“Over the past 25 years, our relationship with India has transformed to become one of the United States most consequential. I’m also honoured to have a chance to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to hear his views on how the American People can help advance the Tibetan people’s struggle for autonomy.”

Earlier this month, the Dalai Lama office said he is travelling to the US for medical treatment of his knees and there will be no public engagement during the visit.

This has been the first visit abroad of the globetrotting monk since the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic was detected in December 2019.

“There will be no engagements, including public audiences, of His Holiness from June 20 onwards until further notice,” an official statement said.

“His Holiness the Dalai Lama is scheduled to travel to the United States for medical treatment of his knees. Upon his return to Dharamsala, regular engagements will resume,” it added.

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His last visit to the US was in June 2017.

The last high-level visit that signifies Washington’s significant support for the Tibetan issue was a meeting between the Dalai Lama and the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Uzra Zeya at his official residence here on May 19, 2022.

In the run-up to the high-profile visit, Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, wrote on X on June 14, “Proud to see Congress pass the ‘Resolve Tibet Act’ this week.

“This legislation is a powerful reaffirmation of the United States’ steadfast commitment to the people of Tibet.”

A representative from the spiritual leader told IANS that since George H.W. Bush (1991), the Dalai Lama has met all the US Presidents, including Barack Obama on four occasions: February 18, 2010, July 16, 2011, February 21, 2014, and June 15, 2016.

The Dalai Lama and Obama met in the Map Room of the White House, rather than the President’s Oval Office usually reserved for visiting heads of state.

In 2017, Obama met the spiritual leader in New Delhi, the sixth in the series, to discuss promoting peace in the world.

Likewise, the Buddhist monk, known for his simplicity and jovial style, met Bill Clinton and George W. Bush several times.

In 2007, the Dalai Lama received the US Congressional Gold Medal, even in the face of protests by China.

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The 88-year-old monk, who was enthroned two years before President Biden was born, has lived in exile in India since fleeing Tibet during a failed uprising against the Chinese government in 1959.

He met with Presidents, Prime Ministers and crown rulers of major nations, including US President Franklin Roosevelt, who sent the Dalai Lama the gift of a pocket watch when he was a young boy.

The Dalai Lama, who visits only on invitation, described the gold watch as magnificent and even took it with him when he fled Tibet in 1959.

In his election campaign, Biden had said if voted to power, his administration would sanction Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in Tibet, besides meeting with the Dalai Lama.

“During the forthcoming visit of His Holiness to the US, an invite from the White House would provide an opportunity to advance US support for the middle-way approach,” a representative from the spiritual leader’s office told IANS.

The “middle-way approach” demands “greater autonomy” for the people in Tibet.

The 14th Dalai Lama was born on July 6, 1935, in a small village in the remote Amdo region of Tibet.

The Dalai Lama, who along with many of his supporters fled the Himalayan homeland and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959, views himself as a simple Buddhist monk.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at gulatiians@gmail.com)

–IANS

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Musk’s statement on EVMs holds no truth, he can learn from India: Rajeev Chandrasekhar

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Sunday that Elon Musk’s take on eliminating electronic voting machines (EVMs) from voting is a “huge sweeping generalisation” which holds no truth, inviting the Tesla CEO to come and learn some lessons in India.

Responding to the tech billionaire’s post on X, which alleged that electronic voting machines should be eliminated as the “risk of being hacked by humans or AI, while small, is still too high,” Chandrasekhar said this is not the case at all.

“This is a huge sweeping generalisation statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware. Wrong,” replied the former minister.

According to Chandrasekhar, Musk’s view may apply to the US and other places where they use regular computing platforms to build “Internet-connected Voting machines.”

Musk had reacted to Puerto Rico’s primary elections which allegedly experienced voting irregularities.

Chandrasekhar further rejected Musk’s statement, saying that Indian EVMs are custom-designed, secure and isolated from any network or media.

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“No connectivity, no bluetooth, wifi, Internet; there is no way in. Factory-programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed,” informed the former minister.

“Electronic voting machines can be architected and built right as India has done. We would be happy to run a tutorial, Elon,” Chandrasekhar added.

–IANS

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The Third Eye: Keeping up vigil in Punjab

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New Delhi: At least two protagonists of Khalistan won the parliamentary elections in Punjab with large margins making it easier for them to further push the separatist agenda in the sensitive border state.

Khalistan ideologue Amritpal Singh lodged in Dibrugarh jail under the National Security Act, secured victory with a margin of 1.93 lakh votes — the highest in this election in Punjab.

Significantly, the Akali Dal registered a decline — winning only the Bathinda seat — which could be interpreted as a weakening of the moderate Sikh voice.

The AAP got three seats that did not set any trend but the relative performance of the Congress and the BJP showed interesting pointers. The BJP increased its vote share from 6.6 to 19 per cent without scoring any victory while Congress lost its vote by a corresponding 13 per cent and won 7 of the 13 seats in the state.

The Jat Sikh and Dalit vote apparently shifted to the Congress while the Hindus seemed to have rallied behind the BJP.

Incidentally in the parliamentary election in nearby Haryana, the Congress and the BJP equally shared the ten seats of the state — all at the cost of regional groupings — which was welcome to the extent it showed the voter’s preference for mainstream politics.

Anything that accentuates community differentiation in Punjab has to be avoided as that would only benefit radicals and separatists — Hindu-Sikh unity founded on the teachings of Guru Nanak was an intrinsic political antidote for the Khalistan movement.

It may be recalled that the Khalistan terror witnessed by Punjab last time had seen targeted killings of Hindus. There is no gainsaying the fact that Punjab has been exposed in recent months to the after-effects of a lot of pro-Khalistan activities that were taking place outside India — particularly in the US and Canada — instigated by our adversaries. There were incidents like attacks on temples abroad to create a Hindu-Sikh divide — the intention obviously was to create a communal backlash in Punjab as well.

Three trends are currently in play that should cause concern. One is the unmitigated process of build-up of the Khalistan advocacy seen in Canada, the US, Australia and even the UK attributable to anti-India forces — with a clear indication of Pak ISI’s hand in it. Pak establishment was known to be in league with Amritpal Singh — it had arranged his stay in Dubai before he shifted to India.

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Amritpal Singh was trying to emulate Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale — he visited village Rode in Moga district and took to Bhindranwale’s attire. He was obviously testing waters in Punjab when he rallied hundreds of followers to raid Ajnala Police Station near Amritsar in February 2023 and successfully rescued his aid who had been earlier arrested for violence.

The crowd carried Guru Granth Sahib as a strategy of defence — this might encourage the trend of stray Gurudwaras being used wherever possible for the promotion of Amritdhari cult.

The modus operandi used by Pak ISI for fuelling terrorism in Punjab in the late 80s was likely to be repeated and this should help the government to frame its counter-measures against the covert plans of the adversary. This time around, Pak ISI is banking in a big way on spreading addiction to drugs in Punjab so that the vulnerable youth could be indoctrinated more easily for taking the path of separatism and violence.

It has made use of Sino-Pak strategic friendship to secure Chinese drones for dropping arms and narcotics in Punjab — undeterred by the close vigilance of BSF and state police against this planned mischief.

It is reported that Amritpal Singh was using ‘de-addiction centres’ in the state for hiding weapons sourced from Pakistan.

The state government needs to have the political will to clean up these establishments, strengthen its Intelligence machinery and secure public cooperation to put down any externally instigated violence- particularly in the border districts of Punjab.

It should be presumed that Pak ISI would keep up its covert offensive in both J&K and Punjab — an indication of this is the ambush of a bus carrying pilgrims returning from Vaishno Devi at Reasi, executed by a group of terrorists said to be from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) on June 9 — around the time when in Delhi the new cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being sworn in. In the intense firing on the bus, the driver was hit and the vehicle subsequently fell into a deep gorge — resulting in nine deaths and grievous injuries to 33 passengers.

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In Punjab, there was another attempt recently to drop narcotics from a drone. Pakistan backed by China has stepped up its anti-India operations particularly after the Indian Parliament voted for the abrogation of Article 370 relating to Kashmir in August 2019. This period has seen a rise in pro-Khalistan violence outside India — notably in Canada and the US — at the hands of Pak ISI-backed forces such as Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF).

In April this year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leader of the opposition in Canada were welcomed at the Vaisakhi rally in Toronto organised by Khalistan supporters, with slogans of ‘Khalistan Zindabad’. This led to India charging the Canadian PM with giving space to separatists and extremists for political reasons. India-Canada relations have suffered a setback on this issue.

Earlier, ‘Sikhs for Justice’ active in the US called for a ‘Khalistan Referendum’ on January 28, 2023, which evoked a response from Sikh separatists in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia. A violent-looking mob created a ruckus at the Indian Consulate in San Francisco and flashed Khalistan flags on the occasion.

In March 2023, Khalistan supporters gathered in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington, raised abusive slogans and threatened the Indian Ambassador. Around the same time, protestors carrying Khalistan flags broke into the Consulate premises in San Francisco and painted graffiti calling for the release of Amritpal Singh who had been arrested in India and lodged in Dibrugarh jail in Assam. In July again, Khalistan supporters set fire to the San Francisco Consulate building at midnight.

Indian Embassy in Melbourne, Australia, witnessed a protest demonstration by Khalistan elements in June 2023 and Sikh — Hindu tension cropped up in Sydney as well.

In London, Khalistan supporters including Dal Khalsa and Khalistan Tiger Force members tried to attack Indian High Commission in March 2023 in retaliation against the arrest of Amritpal Singh, the Khalistan protagonist who had come from Dubai – leading the organisation called ‘Waris Punjab De’ – and as mentioned earlier organised a violent raid at Ajnala Police Station on the outskirts of Amritsar in February last year. The protestors pulled down the national flag, caused damage to the building and injured some people.

India’s national security scenario is characteristically marked by the fact that covert external threats are the prime danger to the country’s internal security at present. This is attributable to the Sino-Pak strategic alliance that works basically against India. The Khalistan movement is being instigated by Pak ISI and China is collaborating with the latter by supplying drones to Pakistan for cross-border operations of dropping arms and narcotics in Punjab.

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Intelligence collection on the doings of the Sino-Pak axis against India has to be stepped up using also the Intelligence-sharing channels with friendly countries who were opposed to China and who felt threatened by the advent of ‘radicalisation’ in the Muslim world.

India is handling the threat of revival of the Khalistan movement in Punjab with a multi-prong strategy using diplomatic, police and socio-political measures to contain and counter the danger — drawing lessons from its handling of the Khalistan ‘terror’ that had overtaken the state in the latter 80s.

In February 2024 at the India-US Homeland Security Dialogue held in Delhi, India raised the demand that pro-Khalistan outfits in the US be investigated for instigating violence against India.

A clear message has been delivered to Canada and the US that the freedom of expression did not extend to giving anti-India calls for violence in the name of Khalistan.

Pro-Khalistan elements do not have the benefit of a cult figure like Bhindranwale within Punjab but the anti-India forces abroad are in a determined way trying to instigate the separatist movement and inject the Hindu-Sikh communal divide into the border state, from outside.

The Centre should take an early step to appoint a senior person with a national security background and knowledge of how the terror that prevailed in Punjab in the past was handled as the Governor so that counter-measures could be coordinated and the state government guided suitably in the socio-political sphere and also instructed properly on security issues.

The new challenges for Intelligence are the scanning of social media, uncovering of clandestine funding of separatist movements and keeping track of the activities of anti-India elements within the state and outside. In matters of national security, the state and central governments have to be on the same page.

(The writer is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau. Views are personal)

–IANS

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Amit Shah to review J&K security today

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Srinagar, June 16 (IANS) Union Home Minister Amit Shah will chair a security review meeting concerning Jammu & Kashmir on Sunday, officials said.

J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, officers of Army, paramilitary forces, J&K Police, and intelligence agencies will be present during today’s meeting.

Security situation in J&K in general and security arrangements for the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra in particular will figure at the high-level meeting to be chaired by Shah on June 16 in New Delhi.

Sunday’s meeting will be the first high-level meeting to be chaired by Amit Shah on J&K after being inducted into the Union Cabinet again.

Heightened security is expected for this year’s Amarnath Yatra in the wake of the June 9 terror attack on the Shiv Khori temple pilgrims in Reasi district. Over 400 additional companies of paramilitary forces are likely to be deployed for this year’s Yatra.

“A strategy is being formulated to eliminate the terrorists hiding in Rajouri-Poonch districts, who are believed to have carried out the Reasi terror attack,” sources said.

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“Plugging infiltration routes through the International Border between Jammu to Kathua is also likely to figure prominently in the meeting,” sources added.

The modus operandi used by the terrorists to cross the international border and the line of control in J&K will also come up during the review discussions.

–IANS

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UP cop’s bruised body found in drain

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Kanpur (UP), June 16 (IANS) A badly bruised body of a Head Constable was found in a drain in Kanpur on Saturday.

Police said that the victim, identified as 55-year-old Khem Chandra, was posted at the police lines. His body was recovered from a drain at the Bhagwat Dass Ghat with severe injuries on his face, fingers and lower abdomen.

Khem’s son Jitendra, a trainee sub-inspector with Pheelkhana Police has got an FIR registered claiming that his father was murdered.

Jitendra also took to social media platform X, pleading for justice and expressing confidence in the police department’s ability to solve the case.

Jitendra said that his father had gone for a walk on Friday and did not return home.

DCP (East) Sharavan Kumar Singh said that local residents told the police that they saw dogs feeding on the victim’s body near the crime scene on Saturday.

He said that the victim’s police belt was found lying nearby.

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DCP Singh emphasised that investigations are on. He said police teams formed to work out the case have been working tirelessly. Despite efforts, no eyewitnesses have come forward to shed any light on the incident.

He also mentioned that a CCTV camera captured Khem Chandra heading towards a liquor store and leaving a short while later. Khem Chandra was not seen on CCTV after this.

Police said that they were awaiting the postmortem examination report to reach any conclusion and added that the report would help ascertain if Khem Chandra’s death was an accident or murder.

–IANS

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