Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday expressed deep concern over Akal Takht Acting Jathedar’s remarks that Sikhs were not safe even in India, and asked the Takht to put pressure on the Akalis to sever all ties with the ruling alliance at the Centre, which had been unable to ensure a sense of safety among the minorities in the country.
While he himself did not agree with the Akal Takht Jathedar’s remarks that Sikhs were not safe in India, the Chief Minister said that if the former did feel that way then he should take up the matter with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and ask them to leave the BJP-led coalition government at the Centre, of which they are a part.
Unlike Pakistan, India had always taken pride in being a secular nation, with no discrimination on religious grounds, said Captain Amarinder, adding that any feeling among the Sikh community that they were not secure here was a matter of grave concern. If Sikhs were feeling insecure in this country, as stated by the Acting Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh, then it was the dispensation at the Centre which was to blame, he stressed.
Given that the Akalis claim to be the custodians of the Sikh religion, and the community, they should take a stand on the issue, and SAD chief Sukhbir Badal should also ask his wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, to resign immediately as a Union Minister, the Chief Minister.
Captain Amarinder said that while some incidents here and there could not be construed to be a case of Sikhs not being safe in India, perception was as important as reality. The Sikhs had lived through a very dark period in the 1980s and any feeling of being at the receiving end in any way would revive their sense of fear, which would be detrimental to the community’s interest, as well as that of the nation, he added.
As Chief Minister of a Sikh dominated state, he himself had always ensured that the community’s interests were protected not just in Punjab but in other states also, said Captain Amarinder, recalling his personal intervention in cases of victimization of Sikhs wherever it might have taken place.
Citing SAD’s hypocrisy on the issue of CAA, Captain Amarinder asked the Akalis to take a clear stand on issues relating to minorities in India and stop playing double games on such matters. It is time they realised that they could not continue being part of the coalition at the Centre, which had failed to protect the minorities in the country, and yet claim to be guardians of these very minorities, he added.