Akal Takht Jathedar rakes up controversy on lowering of Pakistani flag for Guru Granth Sahib
Chandigarh, August 2: Akal Takht acting Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh might have wrongly interpreted the lowering of Pakistani flag at Wagha border when the Nagar Kirtan from Nankana Sahib ceremonially carrying Guru Granth Sahib crossed the Zero line. This is just a technicality. He has created a flutter with his remarks on the issue that might not be to the liking of India.
His remarks at another level provide insight into the Sikh sub-consciousness as the Sikh politics over the years had revolved around the discrimination syndrome. This includes both the Akali Dal as well as the radical narrative.
The Pakistani flag had been brought down when the Sikh procession entered India. This procession had started from Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh Faith whose 550th anniversary is being celebrated by the community across the globe.
The birth place of the Sikh Faith is Pakistan and this relationship can’t be changed. It is a geographical reality.
Giani Harpreet Singh on Facebook interpreted the removal of flag as deference to Guru Granth Sahib. He compared it with the Indian flag fluttering on the Attari side of the Zero line. He is a post-graduate from Punjabi University, Patiala.
The journalists from Chandigarh who had gone to cover first such event after 1947 have clarified that Pakistan removes its flag whenever there is alert for heavy rain and threat of floods in river Ravi that flows not far from the border.
However, it is the interpretative comparison made by Giani Harpreet Singh that is important.
His other comment is also significant in the context of some Pakistani Sikhs who propagate Khalistan. He said none should have any objection to their interaction with Pakistani Sikhs as “They are our brothers. We would sit together and get photographed”.
It may be mentioned that former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was fiercely attacked for having been photographed with Gopal Singh Chawla, the Pakistan resident who propagates Khalistan. He was general secretary of the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee when Pakistan President Imran Khan laid the foundation for Kartarpur Sahib corridor. Sidhu had attended that function despite opposition from Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh.
Chawla is no more the office bearer of the Pakistan gurdwara panel but he managed to get himself photographed this time at Nankana Sahib with Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Manjinder Singh Sirsa who oddly is also Bharatiya Janata Party MLA in Delhi. Sirsa has been a harsh critic of Chawla on social media. However, Giani Harpreet Singh now sees nothing wrong with getting photographed with the likes of Chawla. This is a major shift.
Both the observations made by Giani Harpreet Singh have a deeper meaning in the context of ongoing controversies and narratives associated with the Sikhs.
Significantly, no leader from the Amritsar BJP was there at Attari to receive the Nagar Kirtan although the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev of universal and humanistic cutting across every boundary. For years, 5-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has been repeating that the Akali Dal’s alliance with the BJP is not just political but it is that of “relationship between the nail and the flesh”. What about composite culture in practice?
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