Fumed over the Indian government’s denying the Sikhs permission to visit Pakistan to attend the historic centenary event of the Nankana Sahib massacre, scheduled on February 21, Akal Takht Sahib SGPC-appointed Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh has termed it as an “attack” by India on the faith of Sikhs.
As the Indian government’s unjustified gesture has left the Sikh community disappointed, the highest Sikh temporal seat head also issued a video statement after coming to know about it on February 17 and expressed deep anger at the decision.
He said, “Nankana Sahib is as important and holy for Sikhs as Mecca for Muslims and Banaras or Jagannath Puri, etc. for Hindus.”
“When hundreds of Sikhs attained martyrdom in the massacre during British rule, prominent Indian politicians and national leaders had given them honour by stating they had won the first battle for the freedom of the country. The Sikh jatha was going to Pakistan to commemorate these martyrs and the massacre, the first battle for the freedom of India”, he said.
He further said, “All the jatha members had reached Amritsar Sahib to leave for Nankana Sahib the next morning, but the government imposed a ban on their visit at the eleventh hour. By denying them permission, the government has done very wrong. I feel this is an attack by India’s BJP government on the faith of Sikhs”, he said.
He said, “However, I was not surprised at this gesture as such restrictions were usually imposed on the pilgrimages during Mughal rule. During that period, Hindus were not allowed to go for their pilgrimages. In free India, Sikhs are being denied the same”.
“The reason cited by the government is totally senseless and ridiculous because a jatha visited Pakistan in November last year to celebrate Guru Nanak Sahib’s Parkash Gurpurb. Then how come the status of safety and security of pilgrims has changed within a short time. So, the step is very condemnable. I would say again that this is an attack on the faith of Sikhs”.
Giani Harpreet Singh was to lead the jatha, scheduled to be visiting the historic gurdwaras in Pakistan for a week and returning on February 25. For transportation, food, and accommodation of the pilgrims, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and Pakistan government made special arrangements. Approximately 700 pilgrims were issued visas for the same.
The act of the Indian government has caused deep resentment among the Sikh community across the world.