On February 17, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs imposed a ban on the pilgrimage of more than 500 pilgrims to Nankana Sahib while citing “safety and security reasons”. These Sikh pilgrims, aspirants of marking Saka Nankana’s centenary at Nankana Sahib, were granted visas by the Pakistani High Commission, and they were scheduled to cross the Indo-Pak border on February 18.
A widespread outrage is being observed among the Sikhs over the Indian government’s move of imposing a ban on the pilgrimage of Sikh pilgrims to Nankana Sahib for observing the centenary of Saka Nankana. Ostensibly, this ban is an attack on the fundamental right of Sikhs to practice their religious faith.
Scores of eminent Sikh personalities have registered strong reaction to the Indian government’s move of banning Sikh pilgrims from observing a very important and historic day pertaining to the liberty of sacred Sikh shrines from the Mahants.
Speaking to Sikh24, Sikh intellectual Sardar Gurtej Singh IAS has said that the ruling BJP led Indian government is nervous about Sikhs because of their role in awaking farmers globally against oppressive corporate policies, so it has resorted to cheap tactics for humiliating the Sikhs. “Our relation with Guru Sahib is not dependent on the permission or denial of ruling governments to mark historic days,” he added.
SGPC’s former general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur has stated that the Indian government has imposed this ban on Sikh pilgrims because of its frustration against Sikhs for leading farmers’ agitation. He added that the Indian government has once again made Sikhs feel alienated in India, attacking their religious liberty.
“The BJP led Indian government is specifically targeting Sikhs for hoisting Kesri Nishan Sahib at Lal Qila even though hoisting a Sikh flag doesn’t denote occupation over Lal Qila. Had it been any Hindu raising saffron flag over Lal Qila, the BJP would have honored him with an honorary seat in the Indian parliament,” he maintained.
Sikh intellectual Baljit Singh Khalsa, the chief editor of Panthak magazine Vangaar, has said that the Indian government’s ban on Sikh pilgrims reflects its hate against Sikhs. “Irrespective of the result of farmers’ agitation, the BJP led Indian government will continue to target Sikhs for leading this agitation in the same way as Indira Gandhi did after the emergency,” he added.
Sikh activist Papalpreet Singh has said that the BJP led Indian government has been irking over the leading role of Sikhs in farmers’ agitation, due to which it is humiliating Sikhs. “The Saka Nankana is an important day in the Sikh history, and the Indian government has made Sikhs feel estranged by banning Sikhs from observing the centenary of this historic day,” he added.
This BJP government is not at all different than that of ‘Indira’s congress’. I definitely feel ‘Sikhs’ and ‘Punjab’ is going to face a hatred ‘backlash” for ruling this agitation. They have started giving us ‘signals’, by imposing a ban on our religious liberty.