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'Pannu's unsavoury remark on religion irked pilgrims'

india Updated: Jun 27, 2013 00:59 IST
Vishal Joshi

A Kurukshetra resident rescued from Govindghat in Uttarakhand alleged that Punjab IAS officer Kahan Singh Pannu had passed an unsavoury remark on Sikh religion, forcing people to manhandle him on Monday.

Gurdeep Singh, who along with 15 others, including six children was stranded at Govindghat, told Hindustan Times over phone on Wednesday that Pannu, who reached the site on Monday, had started publicising the achievements of the Punjab government in rescuing pilgrims.

Gurdeep and members of his family were airlifted by the army personnel in Deccan helicopter service to Joshimath on different days and he joined his family on Tuesday night.

Recalling the incident, he said when a group of Sikhs from Punjab inquired from Pannu if there was any arrangement made by the Punjab government for airlifting the stranded children, elders and women, the official said that a chopper of the state (Punjab) government was at Dehradun.

“As Pannu went on repeating that the Prakash Singh Badal's government had made elaborate rescue operations, the Sikh sangat, which was already in despair due to the obvious reasons, got agitated and asked him to stop delivering speeches and leave,” said Singh, claiming to be a witness.

He said the sangat questioned that if the government had not planned rescue for pilgrims, why was Pannu visiting them.

Recalling Sikhs' reaction on Pannu's arrival, Singh said: “Food and firewood is already limited at Govind Dham and unwanted arrival of you people will only further affect the availability of ration. None of us has received any help from the Punjab government.”

“On this, Pannu said that the pilgrims should blame God for their current misery, not the Badal government,” Singh claimed.

“It infuriated the sangat and they took strong objection to the comment. Several persons thrashed Pannu but he did not bleed. He was rescued by the security personnel,” Singh added.