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Sikhs will accept Khalistan if govt offers it, says Akal Takht jathedar

June 07, 2020 05:29 AM

COURTESY HT JUNE 7

Sikhs will accept Khalistan if govt offers it, says Akal Takht jathedar
SEPARATE SIKH STATE: SGPC chief endorses Giani Harpreet Singh’s stance; event passes off peacefully at Golden Temple

Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh (C), SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal (L) and Takht Kesgarh jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh (R) during a press conference in the Golden Temple complex on Saturday; police personnel trying to stop members of some Sikh organisations from entering the shrine at the entrance. Sameer Sehgal/HT

Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh (C), SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal (L) and Takht Kesgarh jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh (R) during a press conference in the Golden Temple complex on Saturday; police personnel trying to stop members of some Sikh organisations from entering the shrine at the entrance. Sameer Sehgal/HT
Surjit Singh

surjit.singh@htlive.com

AMRITSAR : The Sikh community will accept Khalistan, a separate state for Sikhs, if the government offers it, Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh said on Saturday.

The jathedar of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, was talking to the media on the 36th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, which was carried out between June 1 and 8 in 1984 to flush out heavily-armed terrorists holed up in the Golden Temple complex.

“If the Indian government offers us Khalistan, what else do we need? We will accept it. Which Sikh is there in the world, who doesn’t want it?” he said.

Asked about sloganeering at Akal Takht in favour of Khalistan by Sikh hardliners, the jathedar said: “There is nothing wrong in it. But they should have done it after religious programme, which was in progress at the Akal Takht, as sloganeering disrupts the function.”

“The vision of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale needs to be alive at this time. So, history of this episode should be penned down,” he added.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal, who was present during the media interaction, endorsed the jathedar’s stance, saying: “if the government offers it (Khalistan), it will be acceptable to us. When do we refuse to take it? No Sikh can refuse to take it.”

Taking on the Centre in context of the Operation Bluestar, the jathedar said: “The Union government’s gesture has remained anti-Sikh for the last 36 years.”

Earlier, a bhog ceremony, ardas and kirtan were performed at the Takht in memory of those killed in the Operation Bluestar.

During the function, which was held amid heavy rain, the jathedar delivered his sandesh (address) and pointed out to police restrictions for devotees at the Golden Temple.

“Sikhs lack unity. This is the why there are these restrictions,” he said, adding: “The community members need to sit together to achieve the goals set by the Sikh leaders in 1984. For this purpose, we need good policy and honesty” he said in the sandesh, while paying tribute to Bhindranwale who led the militants, and other persons killed in the operation.

Parallel acting jathedar Dhian Singh Mand, who was present at the complex along with radical Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Sakhira and others, also read out his ‘sandesh’.

The function was held amid tight security. In a first, the media was barred from covering the event inside the Golden Temple complex. Restrictions were imposed in the city to prevent gathering in the complex. There was curfew-like situation in the city and all the markets remained almost closed on Saturday.

A majority of people in the gathering were SGPC employees and police in plainclothes. Despite making efforts, the police and the gurdwara committee staff could not ensure social distancing inside the complex to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the anniversary was also observed by Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal, which was once headed by Bhindranwale, at its headquarters Chowk Mehta in the district.

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