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Akal Takht: Sikhs can't be defined by Khalistan alone

Akal Takht: Sikhs can't be defined by Khalistan alone

In a significant move, the acting chief of the Sri Akal Takht Sahib, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, Giani Harpreet Singh, has said that Sikhs can't be defined by Khalistan alone and warned his community against Pakistan which has been pushing the Sikh youth towards terrorism and against the Indian Constitution.

The statement comes a week after media reports said that Giani Harpreet Singh had supported the idea and demand of Khalistan for Sikhs.

After Giani Harpreet Singh's statement last week, the Sikhs For Justice had said, "All Indian leaders who are issuing statements against the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) appointed Akal Takht head will be held accountable as unlawful enemy combatants at international forums."

Pro-Khalistan groups backed by Pakistan, like Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) based in the US, have been running a secessionist campaign, called Referendum 2020, seeking to "liberate Punjab from Indian occupation" on July 4. The group is headed by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a law graduate from Punjab University and an attorney at law in the US. The Indian government banned the group last year.

On Saturday, however, the religious leader clarified his statement over Khalistan, warning Sikhs of Punjab that Pakistan was misleading the Sikh youth, pushing them towards terrorism and inciting them through social media.

Without mentioning names, the Akal Takht chief indirectly hit out at SFJ and its leader, Pannun saying that "many political leaders were making unnecessary statements" about his statement.

He said that according to the concept given by Gurbani, Begampura or Halemi Raj (rule of justice based on humility) is the birth right of the Sikh community and at different times, Sikh leaders living in democratic structures have made many statements.

Recalling that the founding leaders of Sikhism had at one time justified the demand for special region for Sikhs, the head priest said, "Attacks on major Sikh shrines by the Congress government and the brutal massacre further fueled the concept of Halemi Raj among the Sikhs." He said the then government was against Sikhs for its political interests and it created an atmosphere of hatred and genocide.

The chief of the Akal Takht in an indirect reference to the Punjab government said, "On the one hand those who are still spewing venom against Sikhs are followers of the same hate politics and government terrorism."

Lashing out at Pakistan's ISI which funds the Khalistan terrorist movement, Giani Harpreet Singh said, "On the other hand, many adverse agencies are making attempts to mislead the Sikh youth by misinterpreting my meaningful statement. Such adverse forces are doing this for their political benefits by pushing Sikhs on the path of terrorism and inciting Sikh youth through social media."

He said that Sikhs have always wanted to be treated equally and with justice as they also want to treat others in the same way. The Sikhs, he recalled, have shown this during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The head priest of Sikhs said that it was true that Sikhs could not be defined by the idea of Khalistan alone. "Sikhism is a global idea and this idea should bring peace to the world. In fact, my statement has hurt those who want to define Sikhs with false and hateful idea forcibly attached to the political ideology of Khalistan, using government propaganda machinery and on the other hand, some blood thirsty Sikh youth want to satisfy their bosses (Pakistan) by inciting them on social media."

According to Gurmat ideology, he said, the concept of Halemi Raj or Begampura fully express the Sikh sentiments and the India constitution also gives every Sikh the right to carry out this struggle peacefully at a political level within the democratic structure.

Giani Harpreet Singh asked Sikhs to create a political movement within the Indian democratic structure so that people from all walks of life in Punjab region can live peacefully and prosperously.

Although many non-Sikh political leaders are also opposed to the aggressive policy of the government, so far no concerted efforts have been made by the Central government to heal the wounds of the Sikh by approving their legitimate demands, he said. The Akal Takht asked the Central government to pay attention to the legitimate demands of Sikhs so that Sikhs do not feel alienated..