The Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh on Saturday dredged up the issue of Khalistan, saying all Sikhs dream of a separate state and they will happily accept it if the government offers them to have one.
The controversial remarks by the Akal Takht chief came on the 36th anniversary of Operation Blue Star, an operation carried out by the Indian Army to neutralise armed militants hiding inside the Darbar Sahib complex between June 1 and 8, 1984. Singh was interacting with the media on Saturday following the culmination of the annual function at Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, where he raised the tendentious issue of a separate sovereign state for Sikhs.
Responding to the queries on the slogans being raised in favour of Khalistan, Singh said, “There’s no harm if slogans are raised in favour of Khalistan by hard-liner Sikhs after the function. If the government offers us Khalistan, we need nothing else. We will accept it because every Sikh wants it.”
Singh, however, added that such slogans should not be shouted during the official function of Operation Blue Star.
Singh’s views found concurrence with Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal, who said, ”If the government offers it (Khalistan) we will accept it.”
Early in the day, a bhog ceremony, ardas and kirtan were performed at the Takht in memory of those killed in Operation Bluestar.
According to the sources, the function was held amidst tight security and media was not allowed to cover the event inside the Golden Temple complex. The police reportedly tried to stop activists of various Sikh organisations who came in droves early in the morning to pay their homage at the Golden Temple in contravention to the social distancing norms. However, they managed to get inside the complex following a heated altercation with the police personnel.
A minor scuffle broke out between the supporters of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and police as Emaan Singh Mann, son of Simranjit Singh Mann was stopped by the forces at the entrance of Golden Temple. They were subsequently allowed inside the temple after they held a demonstration.
A phalanx of 5,000 police forces was stationed outside the Golden Temple complex to ensure law and order is maintained. Along with the police, health teams were also deployed at the venue to screen the devotees entering the shrine amidst the coronavirus crisis. However, the task force of the SGPC and the police in plain clothes could not ensure social distancing inside the Golden Temple complex