Akal Takht jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh on Tuesday charged the BJP-led Centre with working to benefit chosen corporate houses at the cost of the Sikh community’s economic interests.
Addressing a religious gathering on Baisakhi, which marks the Khalsa foundation day at the historic Damdama Sahib gurdwara in Talwandi Sabo, the jathedar made an indirect reference to the farm laws, saying the Centre’s policies are aimed at hitting the agrarian and non-agricultural sections equally.
“The communities may cease to exist if their economic sources are targeted. Ill-conceived government policies are to be blamed for the ongoing economic instability. New policies are being formulated keeping in view the interests of a few business families,” Giani Harpreet Singh said.
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Calls for abstaining from drugs, deras
The Damdama Sahib gurdwara is significant as Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh master, prepared the full version of Sri Guru Granth Sahib there in 1705.
Giani Harpreet Singh called on members of the Sikh community to fight against drug abuse and shun following deras (sects).
Huge rush of pilgrims amid Covid surge
Owing to restrictions imposed after the Covid-19 pandemic, Baisakhi celebrations were low key last year as people were asked to stay home and celebrate the festival. However, this time, when cases are seeing a surge across the country, including Punjab, religious bodies have made large-scale arrangements to mark the festival. Covid guidelines were blatantly violated as there was an unchecked rush to devotees at the shrine since Monday night.
Markets in the vicinity of the gurdwara were crowded and people were seen without masks and there was no enforcement of the protocol. There was no provision for thermal scanning.
Authorities express inability to enforce guidelines
Officials in the health department and civil administration expressed their inability to enforce the Covid guidelines. “Issuing challans may lead to a law and order situation in such a huge gathering. Last year, religious bodies had proactively appealed to devotees to hold special prayers and avoid visiting the shrine on Baisakhi and it got the desired results. But the virus infection threat is far more serious today and Talwandi Sabo is seeing such a big gathering,” an official said, requesting anonymity.
Farmers’ rally organised near gurdwara
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrhana) also held a kisan (farmers’) rally adjacent to the gurdwara to protest the farm laws. A large part of the gathering comprised elderly villagers and women.