Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Sunday said that the Central Government’s decision to decline permission to a Sikh Jatha to visit Sri Nankana Sahib to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the massacre of Sikhs during the gurdwara reform movement was akin to an attack on the Sikh community.
Asking the Central Government to explain why it had denied permission to the Jatha, which was to be led by Akal Takth Sahib Jathedar (head priest) one day prior to the visit, Sukhbir said that earlier in November, a similar Jatha had visited Pakistan. “Even few days back, few persons were granted permission to visit Pakistan at the instance of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh,” he said while asking the Chief Minister why he had not taken up the issue of need to accord permission to the Jatha with the Centre.
Sukhbir, who was addressing a congregation at a centenary function organized by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to mark the 100th anniversary of Saka Nankana Sahib, said that the Sikh community is known for ‘sewa’ (service) and ‘shahadat’ (sacrifice) worldwide.
He said that the Sikh community had made the most sacrifices for the independence of the country and even Mahatma Gandhi had recognized the ‘Chabian da Morcha’ as the first battle of Independence.
Terming the occasion of Saka Nankana Sahib as a historic one, Sukhbir said that it was on this day that the community had risen to take control of Gurudham from the ‘Mahants’. “The massacre of Sikhs under the leadership of Shaheed Lachhman Singh Dharowali eventually led Sikhs into unifying as one to drive out Mahants from the gurdwaras,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Akal Takth Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh said that the BJP-led Central Government had stopped Sikhs from proceeding to Sri Nankana Sahib in the same manner as the British had stopped the Jatha led by Kartar Singh Jhabbar that had gone to free the shrine from the control of the Mahants.
“The Central Government has denied permission to the Jatha visiting Sri Nankana Sahib because it wanted the community to call back its members who were protesting on the borders of Delhi against the three farm laws. This will never happen even if the Central Government refuses permission to Sikh Jathas every year,” he added.
Urging the Sikh community to unite as one, Giani Harpreet Singh said: “Today, we are fighting between ourselves. If we continue like this, our very existence will be at stake.”
He also condemned the politics of polarization which had become prevalent in the country now, saying that the “minorities could be persecuted in the future. We should unite and become powerful politically to thwart this”.
SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur also urged the community to unite under the banner of the Shiromani Committee while urging everyone to follow the principles of Sikhism and take pride in its teaching and organizations. She also announced that the SGPC would observe year long events in various institutes and also construct a ‘Guru Ka Langar’ hall in remembrance of Mata Inderjit Kaur and a library in memory of the martyrs of Nankana Sahib in their villages.