Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's personal intervention to stop the Delhi government from going ahead with its "dangerous move to interfere in the religious affairs" of the Sikh community.
In a letter to Singh, the ruling SAD patron-in-chief urged him to ensure that elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) were held in accordance with the letter and spirit of the directions of the Supreme Court. Badal's missive came against the backdrop of a clash inside the premises of Rakabganj Gurudwara in Delhi yesterday in the run up to next month's DSGMC elections.
Expressing anguish over the incident, Badal said in the letter that the clash was a direct consequence of the chain of events unleashed by the "totally unjustified and provocative move of the Delhi government to interfere in the religious affairs of the Sikhs through a proposed amendment to the electoral procedure in the DSGMC."
He urged the PM to recall that he had drawn his kind attention to this very serious issue and had conveyed to him the apprehension in the minds of Sikhs all over the world that this could become a flash point of a series of unhappy events. "Unfortunately, my pleas remained unattended. Yesterday's events have further confirmed the fears in the minds of the Sikh masses that the Congress government in Delhi is bent upon creating problems for the community for narrow political ends. This is a dangerous development and does not augur well for future," he said in the letter.
Earlier, he told reporters, "It is very sad, I would say most tragic that such an incident took place inside a gurudwara. The attackers neither kept the sanctity of the gurudwara nor of our democracy. It was the worst thing that could have happened."
Meanwhile, while talking to media-persons in Ludhiyana, Badal decried the role of Congress in the clash. "It was highly deplorable that the Congress was meddling in the religious affairs of the Sikhs," he said.
We had asked them to desist from such "politically motivated tactics" mainly focused to delay the DSGMC elections despite the Supreme Court's orders to ensure that elections of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee were to be completed by December 31, 2012, he said.
Accusing DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna of the "pre-planned attack" on SAD members with the support of Congress, Badal said, "Not only the Punjabis even the countrymen and the people across the globe were well aware about the sacrifice made by this great son of the soil."
On the "clandestine move of DSGMC to introduce direct elections", Badal said there was no such provision either in the apex body of Sikhs - Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar and/or any religious or other body in India. Similarly, even there was no provision for a direct election of a president in any of the elected constitutional bodies in the country.
The chief minister paid tribute to Kartar Singh Sarabha on his 97th martrydom anniversary here at his native village. Addressing a gathering after paying tributes, Badal said that he would soon take up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to declare Sarabha as a "national martyr".
Badal said that "he was taken aback" when it was brought to his notice by the Kartar Singh Sarabha Charitable Trust that the Centre had not yet declared Sarabha as a national martyr. The Sarabha sacrifice was no less than any other great martyrs like Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Shaheed Udham Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai, so it was unjustified to deny the status of national martyr to him.
"Though the Punjabis constituted only 2% of the country's population, their contribution in the freedom struggle can never be ignored," the chief minister said, adding that it was a matter of honour that most of the prominent movements associated with the freedom struggle like Babbar Akali Movement, Kuka Lehar and Ghadar Lehar were led from Punjab.
Badal said that our freedom fighters had laid down their lives for the welfare of our countrymen, but it was the irony of fate that their aspirations had not yet been cherished because they dreamt of an independent India free from the "maladies of illiteracy, unemployment and starvation".
Alleging the Centre of "having failed miserably in realising the dreams of our national heroes even after 65 years of independence", Badal said, it is to pay a befitting tribute to the Punjabis for their immense contribution in the country's freedom struggle that the Punjab government has decided to set up a world-class 'Jang-e-Azaadi Memorial' in an area of 25 acre at Kartarpur in Jalandhar.
This state-of-the-art memorial, which would come up within next two years, would not only showcase the rich legacy of our great heroes but also help in imbibing the spirit of patriotism in our future generations, he added.
To another question regarding the autonomy to states, Badal said the Congress-led UPA government was gradually encroaching upon the rights of the states and eroding the federal structure and paving a way for unitary one, which was not only unconstitutional but also unethical.
Apart from blaming the Centre for "faulty" planning and said "it was reflected in mass unemployment, illiteracy, inflation and corruption", Badal said the Congress had completely ruined the state agriculture due to its discriminatory policies.
State like Punjab, in which nearly 70% people were engaged in agriculture, had been blatantly ignored by the Centre and they have absolutely no say in such matters to safeguard their interests, the veteran Akali leader said.