Kejriwal to do ‘sewa’ at Golden Temple on July 18

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Chandigarh, July 8 (IANS) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will do “sewa” (voluntary religious service) at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on July 18 after charges that the AAP had hurt Sikhs’ religious feelings, a party leader said on Friday.

Aam Aadmi Party leader and senior lawyer H.S. Phoolka said Kejriwal will visit Harmandar Sahib to do service there.

“Like a humble ‘sewak’ (servant) and true ‘aam aadmi’, Kejriwalji will perform ‘sewa’ at Harmandar Sahib, Amritsar, on July 18,” Phoolka said in a statement. Kejriwal re-tweeted Phoolka’s tweet.

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 broom.

Kejriwal is likely to do service at the ‘Langar hall’ (community kitchen) and also at the ‘Jora ghara’ (shoe storage area) of the Sikh shrine, which gets thousands of devotees daily.

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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.

Apologies by Khetan and the AAP over both controversies have been rejected by Punjab’s ruling Akali Dal, the opposition Congress as well as the SGPC.

This will be Kejriwal’s second visit to the Sikh shrine within 15 days. He began his three-day Punjab tour on July 3 by offering prayers at the shrine.

It was after his visit that day that Kejriwal released the ‘Youth Manifesto’ in Amritsar, 250 km from here.

Ruling Shiromani Akali Dal activists, including women, on Friday protested in Punjab against the “insensitivity” of the AAP leadership towards religious sentiments of various communities.

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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.

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”.

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

Parkash Singh Badal said the “atrocious act” of displaying a picture of Harmandar Sahib on the cover of the AAP 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.

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Sukhbir Singh Badal said the AAP and its leadership were “outsiders who don’t have any inkling of the culture and traditions of Punjab”.

The AAP has emerged as a major force in Punjab, which faces assembly elections next year.



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