AMRITSAR: Protesting the Centre’s decision to deny permission to a jatha to travel to Pakistan to observe the Nankana Sahib massacre centenary, Akal Takht officiating jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh on Friday said the government was discriminating against Sikhs. The Centre denied permission to the jatha on the pretext of Covid-19 while the Kumbh festival was going to be celebrated in Haridwar in April, he said.
On Wednesday, the Centre refused to allow the SGPC-led Sikh jatha to leave for Pakistan, citing security reasons and prevalent Covid situation in the neighbouring country. The jatha was scheduled to leave on Thursday.
In a video message on Friday, the jathedar said, “Not just lakhs but crores of people converge there to take a holy dip and they will arrive this year too, but there is no such restriction even as Kumbh festival comes after 12 years. But our religious day, which is going to be observed on February 21 after 100 years, did not get permission.” Restricting the movement of the jatha was “highly unfortunate” and had hurt the religious sentiments of Sikh community, he added. “I think Centre has made a historical mistake, which it will be reminded of every year,” he said.
SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur has also written a letter to PM Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, asking them to reconsider their decision. “Sikhs laid the foundation for freedom of the country by making sacrifices but Centre is discriminating against them,” she alleged. Kaur also sent a set of books on the Sikh community’s history of sacrifice to Modi and Shah. “The books are sent to make them realise the importance of the sangat to participate in the ceremonies taking place there.”