Plans to mark the 150 years of the Kuka movement — one of the first wars of independence, backed by the Namdhari sect of Sikhism — with the release of a postal stamp have been delayed for three months now. Reason: Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is chairman of the Kuka Martyrs Memorial Trust, wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release the stamp in Delhi, but Modi has given no time so far.
The Union government had given its nod to issue the commemorative stamp earlier this year, and the Punjab government and the Trust completed all formalities for release in August. The stamps have already been printed by the ministry of communication and information technology. But even after six weeks of making an official request, Modi is yet to give time to Badal to share the stage for release of the Rs 5 stamp.
Chill to blame?
Observers now believe the deepening chill between alliance partners BJP and SAD could be a reason as the BJP’s strategy seems to be to go it alone on the back of the ‘Modi wave’ in Punjab as well.
Some BJP leaders have even accused the SAD, of which CM Badal is the patron, of promoting “mafia rule” in Punjab. Though it started after a relatively poor showing in the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, for which the BJP blamed the SAD, things turned sour further after the SAD stuck to its alliance in Haryana with BJP’s main rival INLD.
Letter in September
Sources told HT that it was in the last week of September that Badal wrote to Modi seeking time.
The CM wrote: “I would like that such a historic stamp must be released by the number-one representative of the India that is honourable Prime Minister. I earnestly request you to give a date for release of the stamp in New Delhi so that the function can be organised accordingly.”
On behalf of the Kuka Trust, the state had taken up the matter with the central government to issue the stamp. At present, Navjot Pal Singh, director of the state’s tourism and cultural affairs department, is taking care of the project.
Surinder Singh, vice-president, Kuka Martyrs Memorial Trust, told HT, “CM Badal requested Modi-ji to release the stamp but he is yet to give us time. At present the PM is out of the country, but hopefully around the Parliament session we may release the stamp. The ministry of communication has told us that the stamp has to be released in 2014.”
He added, “We have completed all formalities and even deposited Rs 6 lakh for the printing of the stamps.”
The Kuka movement
Sri Satguru Ram Singh started the Kuka movement on April 12, 1857, to free India from British rule. The Kukas or Namdhari Sikhs made many sacrifices during their 90-year war of independence (1857 to 1947). Ten of them were hanged, 66 blown off with the cannons, hundreds put behind the jails and drowned in the sea by the foreign rulers. Sri Satguru Ram Singh was arrested and exiled to Myanmar in 1872. The Namdhari sect is headquartered at Bhaini Sahib in Ludhiana district.