‘Stop trying to create panic’: Akal Takht slams heavy security cover | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Stop trying to create panic’: Akal Takht slams heavy security cover

ByVishal Joshi, Talwandi Sabo (bathinda)
Apr 08, 2023 04:22 AM IST

Takht Damdama Sahib is one of the five takhts or seats of temporal authority of Sikhism.

Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh on Friday accused the Punjab government of trying to create panic ahead of Baisakhi, and criticised the heavy deployment of security personnel in and around Talwandi Sabo area of Bathinda district where Takht Damdama Sahib is located. He also reiterated his appeal to fugitive radical preacher Amritpal Singh to surrender.

Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh (HT)
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh (HT)

Takht Damdama Sahib is one of the five takhts or seats of temporal authority of Sikhism.

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Also read: Amritpal Singh went through surgery to look like Bhindranwale: Report

Addressing a special gathering at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo, the head of Sikh’s highest temporal seat urged members of the community to assemble in large numbers for Baisakhi to show that they were not scared of anything. He added that the heavy deployment has adversely impacted devotees visiting the site, which recorded only 10% of the usual Baisakhi rush ahead of the April 14 celebrations.

“Every year, we see a big gathering which starts from April 5 (for Baisakhi). But (at present), the number of ‘sangat’ is just 10%. The reason is the panic created by the government,” he said.

Baisakhi, one of Punjab’s biggest festivals in north India, marks the foundation day of the ‘Khalsa Panth’ (Sikh order) by the tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. It also marks the onset of harvest season.

“I want to tell the Punjab government through this platform that this strictness has created a panic, and it should be ended,” he added.

The gathering comes in the backdrop of a the Punjab police’s major crackdown on Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh and his aides, wanted in several criminal cases involving allegations of spreading communal disharmony, attempt to murder and attacking policemen. Among these was the dramatic February 23 siege by thousands of supporters of Waris Punjab De of a police station in Amritsar district, which forced the state government to free Amritpal Singh’s aide Lovepreet Tufan. Amritpal Singh has since been linked to a larger conspiracy involving the Khalistani secessionist movement, with intelligence agencies saying he is fast radicalising young men in the border state.

Speaking to reporters, the Jathedar again asked radical preacher Amritpal Singh to surrender.

“I had earlier appealed to him. He should surrender,” he said.

Expressing concern over the “fake narrative” being spread against Sikhs in the mainstream media and social media platforms, the jathedar also announced a new platform to track and bust “anti-Sikh” content being circulated online.

“Communal riots during Ram Navami in West Bengal and Maharashtra were absent on the national media but Punjab, where no riot took place since police action began against Amritpal, was painted as a highly volatile state. Media should desist from the wrong portrayal of Sikhs as separatists and anti-national,” he said.

Also read: High alert for Baisakhi, Punjab cops' leaves cancelled amid Amritpal Singh hunt

He added that the Sikh community is not interested in adopting a way of confrontation and is ready for dialogues with the governments. “But in the last 75 years, numerous promises were made to the community but none of them was fulfilled,” he said.

He, however, was quick to add that Akal Takht would stand with media organisations facing oppression from the state.

He also directed the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the apex religious body of the Sikhs, to file a complaint against terming of flags of erstwhile Sikh rule as Khalistan flags by police. The Jathedar lamented that the SGPC had earlier too been told to file a complaint, but it did not take any meaningful step in the matter.

Unveiling 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture', a fresh segment in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha', where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch Now!
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