Akalis in Punjab protest AAP ‘hurting’ religious sentiments

Chandigarh, July 8 (IANS) Ruling Shiromani Akali Dal activists, including women, on Friday protested in Punjab against the “insensitivity” of the Aam Aadmi Party leadership towards religious sentiments of various communities.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy and son Sukhbir Singh Badal accused the AAP leaders of “hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikhs” through their actions.

The AAP courted controversy when the cover page of its ‘Youth manifesto’ carried a picture of the Sikhs’ holiest shrine, Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, along with AAP election symbol of ‘broom’.

AAP leader Ashish Khetan has been booked on charge of hurting religious sentiments of the Sikhs by equating the manifesto with Guru Granth Sahib, the Bible and the Gita.

SAD activists, including those from its women’s wing, held protests in Amritsar and Jalandhar cities and demanded strict action against the erring AAP leaders.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs, too was mulling legal action in the matter.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the “atrocious act” of displaying a picture of Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple) on the cover of the AAP ‘Youth manifesto’ along with a picture of broom was “blasphemy”.

“It has hurt the religious sentiments of the Sikh community, not within the state but across the globe,” Badal told the media in Ghanauli in Ropar district, 50 km from here.

Badal said: “The AAP’s action is not merely a crime but a heinous one, which is unpardonable.”

“Their psyche to show disrespect to the Sikh religion has come to the fore, through this disgraceful act which has amounted to sacrilege,” the Chief Minister said.

Justifying legal action likely to be taken by the SGPC in the matter, Badal said the law of the land will take its own course as Punjab had already opted for the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2016, that seeks life imprisonment for sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Under the amendment, the state government has proposed addition of Section 295-AA in the IPC and enhancement of the punishment under Section 295 of the IPC from two to 10 years.

SAD President and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal too said that the AAP and its leadership were a “bunch of outsiders who don’t have any inkling of the culture and traditions of Punjab”.

“These people are hankering after power by making fake promises and fomenting trouble in the state,” he said.

AAP leader and senior lawyer H.S. Phoolka said on Friday that party national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will visit Harmandar Sahib on July 18 and offer prayers there.

“Like a humble ‘sewak’ (servant) and true ‘aam aadmi’, Kejriwal ji will perform ‘sewa’ (voluntary religious service0 at Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar, on July 18,” Phoolka said in a statement.

Kejriwal began his three-day Punjab tour on July 3 by offering prayers at the shrine. It was immediately after his visit that day that Kejriwal released the party’s controversial ‘Youth manifesto’ in Amritsar, 250 km from here.



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