The Punjab chief minister, in a statement here, said that unlike Pakistan, India had always taken pride in being a secular nation, with no discrimination on religious grounds.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday slammed the Akal Takht’s acting jathedar over his reported remark that Sikhs are not safe in the country, telling him to ask the Akalis to sever ties with the ruling BJP if he felt this way.
Giani Harpreet Singh, jathedar (leader) of the supreme temporal body of Sikhs, on Monday reportedly condemned the Gurdwara Nankana Sahib attack and the killing of a Sikh youth in Peshawar, saying, “I do not feel Sikhs are safe anywhere. In India, Sikhs are being uprooted in Madhya Pradesh and in Shillong also, they are facing eviction. In Pakistan, Sikhs are also scared after the incidents of killing of a Sikh and Nankana Sahib (gurdwara)”.
Reacting to the remarks, the chief minister asked the jathedar to pressure the Akalis to sever all ties with the ruling alliance at the Centre, which had been “unable to ensure a sense of safety among the minorities in the country”.
Amarinder Singh said he did not agree with Akal Takht jathedar’s remarks. He said “if the jathedar did feel that way, he should take up the matter with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and ask them to leave the BJP-led coalition government at the Centre, of which they are a part”.
The Punjab chief minister, in a statement here, said that unlike Pakistan, India had always taken pride in being a secular nation, with no discrimination on religious grounds. “Any feeling among the Sikh community that they are not secure here is a matter of grave concern,” he said.
In his remarks, the jathedar had also appealed to the Sikh community to come together so as to contain such attacks.
While in Madhya Pradesh, there were reports of some Sikh families being evicted from their houses in Sheopur district, in Meghalaya capital Shillong, the Sikh families were last year asked to prove they were settled legally, he said.
Amarinder Singh said, “If Sikhs are feeling insecure in the country, as stated by the acting jathedar, then it is the dispensation at the Centre which is to blame”.
“Given that the Akalis claim to be the custodians of the Sikh religion, and the community, they should take a stand on the issue, and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal should also ask his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal to resign immediately as a Union Minister,” the chief minister said.
He said while some incidents here and there could not be construed to be a case of Sikhs not being safe in India, “perception is as important as reality”.
“The Sikhs had lived through a very dark period in the 1980s and any feeling of being at the receiving end in any way would revive their sense of fear, which would be detrimental to the community’s interest, as well as that of the nation,” the chief minister said.