Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Tuesday hit out at Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh for “provoking” people through an ultimatum to the AAP government to release all Sikh youths who were held during the police crackdown against radical preacher Amritpal Singh and his aides.
Hitting back, the Jathedar said he has the right and duty to speak about “innocent” Sikh youths.
Following a police crackdown against Amritpal and his associates, the Punjab Police Sunday said it has released 197 people out of total 353 taken into preventive custody on apprehension of breach of peace and disturbance of law and order.
Mann accused the Jathedar of “favouring” the Badals and also told him that the Badals had “used” several Jathedars for their “vested interests”.
The CM further told the Jathedar of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, that it would have been better had he issued the ultimatum in the sacrilege and missing ‘saroops’ of Guru Granth Sahib.
Mann’s reaction came a day after the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpeet Singh had given a 24-hour ultimatum to the AAP government to release all Sikh youths who were held during the police crackdown against radical preacher Amritpal Singh and his aides.
The Jathedar had also condemned the state government for invoking the National Security Act against a few persons during the police crackdown.
The Jathedar of Akal Takht in Amritsar had convened a special gathering of Sikh organizations, including intellectuals, Sikh lawyers, journalists, religious and social leaders to discuss the current situation in Punjab following the March 18 action against elements of ‘Waris Punjab De’ headed by Amritpal Singh.
Lambasting the Jathedar over his ultimatum, Mann in a tweet in Punjabi said, “Jathedar Sri Akal Takht Sahib ji. Everyone knows you and SGPC have been favoring the Badals. Look at the history, many Jathedars were used by the Badals for their own interests. It would have been better had you given the ultimatum for the sacrilege and missing ‘saroops’ of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji instead of provoking happily living people.” The incidents related to the theft of a ‘bir’ (copy) of the Guru Granth Sahib, putting up handwritten sacrilegious posters, and torn pages of the holy book being found scattered at Bargari had taken place in Faridkot in 2015.
In a separate incident, 328 ‘saroops’ (copies) of Guru Granth Sahib had gone missing from the records of the publication house of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
Later, the Jathedar in his Facebook post on Tuesday said, “Bhagwant Mann ji as you represent Punjab, I am also a humble representative of my ‘qaum’ (community).” “I also have the right and my duty to speak about the rights of the innocent youth of my ‘qaum’,” said the Jathedar.
He told the CM that he was right that often “innocent” religious people are used by political people.
“But I am fully aware of this,” said Singh.
At the same time, he asked Mann to be careful that political persons like him may not be used by politicians for grinding their axe.
Singh told the CM, “First, let’s save Punjab together and unite the mothers waiting for their innocent sons who have been put in jail and get their blessings”, as he was referring to the ultimatum given to the state government for release of the Sikh youths.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)