Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday called for national unity to combat divisive forces and terrorists, who were out to break the country and halt its progress. He said, “Let’s move ahead together shoulder-to-shoulder.”
Addressing a function here as part of the Guru-ta-Gaddi tercentenary celebrations of Sikhs, he said, “The country is progressing rapidly…we have to combat all such forces collectively and effectively and protect the unity and integrity of our nation.”
Though he did not refer to any particular incident, the comment came in the backdrop of attacks against north Indians in Maharashtra. It was also on a day when Assam was rocked by serial blasts.
Highlighting the role played by Sikhs in nation building, the Prime Minister appealed to the Khalsa Panth to do its best for the development of the country.
Sikhs from around the world converged on the sleepy town of Nanded, 650 km from Mumbai, for the celebration. Amid chants of Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal, Singh was offered a golden-coloured sword, a saffron jacket and a chadar at the gurdwara.
Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni and Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy also offered prayers at the gurdwara. There were around 500 devotees from Pakistan too.
Three hundred years ago, Guru Govind Singh, the last Sikh spiritual head, consecrated the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture, here. More than a thousand devotees were up at sunrise to recreate the walk of Guru Govind Singh from the Nagia Ghat Gurdwara to the Sachkhand Gurdwara with the scripture.
Sikhs began arriving at the weekend and will stay till November 4, when the celebrations end. The organisers invited one Sikh from every family in India as well as representatives from the Sikh communities all over the world.