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Parkash Singh Badal flays 'forced' religious conversions

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Parkash Singh Badal flays 'forced' religious conversions
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Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday flayed the "forced" religious conversions taking place in a few parts of the country, saying these were against the tenets of Sikhism.

Describing the conversions as "unfortunate", Badal said, "The Sikhs have never accepted the forceful religious conversions. The entire Sikh history is replete with several episodes where our great Gurus and valiant Sikh warriors never bowed to the pressure exerted by the mighty rulers." He further said Sikh Gurus had opposed forceful conversions tooth and nail and Guru Teg Bahadur had even preferred to sacrifice his life than succumbing to "the Mughal oppression for forcible conversions of Hindus into Muslim".

He was speaking here at the state level martyrdom function of the 'Chotte Sahibzadas' Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh and their mother Mata Gujri. On the issue drugs, Badal expressed anguish over the alleged failures of successive Union governments to check the free flow of drugs and narcotics from across the international border. Citing an example, he said 85 per cent of heroin was being smuggled from Afghanistan to Punjab via Pakistan, which was further supplied in different parts of world.

"How can the state government be held responsible for drug trafficking from international border in Punjab due to sheer complacency at the part of Centre," he said. The CM also said that in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, narcotics like opium, poppy husk and others were allegedly sold freely in the open market. Welcoming the initiative of BJP President Amit Shah who will launch a campaign against drugs in the state next month, Badal said it should be far more widened up to Kanyakumari to make India a drug free nation. Badal said that he would love to participate in the campaign provided he was extended an invitation from BJP.

He called for a time bound joint strategy by the states and central governments with a "missionary zeal sans politicking on this sensitive issue (drug menace) any more." Expressing dismay over the "deliberate attempts" by the political opponents to target Punjab over the issue of drugs, the Chief Minister claimed that it was on record that Punjab was the only state, which had taken several bold initiatives to tackle the drug menace by establishing a network of drug de-addiction and rehabilitation centers.

Earlier, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the state government would soon call on the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister for seeking their direct intervention in sealing the borders to check free flow of drugs from across the international and national borders and advisories to the respective state governments to ban the supply of drugs and narcotics in the open markets. The Chief Minister said Sikhs were a martial race and have ever remained in forefront to uphold the ethos of peace, unity, communal harmony and national integration. He also announced that the civil works on the Baba Moti Ram Mehra memorial in recognition with his utmost service to the Sikh panth, would be completed soon. 

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