Akal Takht leader asks people not to fall prey to conversion


The Akal Takht’s officiating Jathedar, Giani Harpreet Singh on Tuesday called on all Sikh outfits in Punjab to raise join together to strengthen their religion, especially in rural belts. He asked the groups to do so while “expecting the least from the government”. Jathedar Singh has been demonstrating concern over Sikh youth in the state converting to Christianity.
The Jathedar was addressing a gathering in the Golden Temple complex, commemorating the 39th anniversary of the highly contentious Operation Blue Star. The prayer meeting was held to mark the anniversary of Blue Star which was carried out inside the Golden Temple complex in June 1984 by the Army to flush out heavily armed terrorists. Although pro-Khalistan sloganeering by radical Sikh organisations could be heard quite loudly, the event proceeded peacefully. Heavy police presence in ‘mufti’ along with the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGP) task force was deployed inside the shrine complex to deal with any untoward activity.
The Jathedar said that the scars of the 1984 attack made the Sikhs ‘mazboot’ (strong), not ‘majboor’ (helpless), despite the derogatory narratives on social media. “Sikhs can never forget the wounds of 1984. Much is being publicised on social media in defamatory terms. I want to clarify that it boosts our strength,” he said.
Alluding to the trend of conversions to Christianity in rural areas of the state, the Jathedar said that this is pertinent to maintain unity among the Sikh community. “I appeal to all Sikh missionaries, Sant Samaj, Damdami Taksal, and other organisations to shun their differences, come together on one platform and preach Sikhism jointly, especially in remote rural areas where the Sikhs felt dejected. We have to take the ‘patits’ back into the Sikh fold,” he said. The Akal Takht Jathedar along with SGPC officials honoured the families of those who were killed during the Operation. Several people in attendance wore T-shirts with slogans of ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ printed on them. The group included activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by MP Simranjit Singh Mann, Dal Khalsa, and the Sikh Youth Federation.
During the event, the activists of the Sikh Youth Federation (Bhindranwale) carried banners and pro-Khalistan placards, opposing the NSA and UAPA and asking the government to resolve pertinent issues. On the other hand, several devotees were visibly emotional to have glimpsed the bullet-riddled Sri Guru Granth Sahib ‘saroop’ or copy that was damaged during the Army attack at the Golden Temple. This copy of the scriptures was specially enshrined for the occasion at Shaheed Baba Gurbaksh Singh Gurdwara. The shell of the bullet that is believed to have hit the holy book in the sanctum sanctorum then was also on display.
The bullet had damaged its cover and 90 pages before getting lodged in the holy book. The conservation of the handwritten ‘saroop’ was undertaken by experts, while retaining some of the damage marks. A specially designed paper was brought in from overseas, to restore the damaged portions. These portions were kept in a small see-through glass box that was also on display. The original bullet mark on the cover of the holy script has been kept as it is. The holy relic was part of the evidence of the Operation Blue Star damage claims.