With reference to Pankaj Vohra’s article Stop the slide in Punjab (May 21), it’s a shame that we fight only emotionally-driven battles, which fetch us no good result. If Gurmeet Ram Rahim is working for the well-being of the people, he could issue a statement saying as much. If it were a political issue, saying sorry would be of no use. And if his followers have lost faith, it is an opportunity for him to demonstrate how much he cares for mankind’s welfare.
Amarjit Singh Saini
Pankaj Vohra rightly points out that ‘no living person can ever emulate Guru Gobind Singh whose family’s sacrifices are unparalleled in Indian history’. He is not only a Sikh hero, but also a national hero. His qualities and achievements will fill several volumes, but still they cannot be fully described.
With reference to the editorial Control Punjab before losing control (May 19), the provocative act committed by the Dera chief who equated himself with Guru Gobind Singh has raised the hackles of this community. The tension between supporters of the Akalis and the Dera Sacha Sauda has fuelled sectarian strife. We must defuse the tension, perhaps by staging a peace march by leaders of all political hues.
Arjun N Jaiswal
The Punjab government is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Despite regrets offered by the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, the Akal Takth called for bandh in Punjab to demand the arrest of the Baba. This is bound to harden people’s sentiments and more clashes can be expected in the future.
Punjab must avoid violence at all costs and steer clear of political minefields that are being laid by vested interests. It must be recalled how similar problem with the Nirankaris proved a turning point in Punjab leading to an unprecedented bloodbath. None can ever hope to match the stature of Guru Gobind Singh or the sacrifices made by his family. So there is no need for anyone to seek apologies from lesser mortals. It would be best to ignore the Dera issue or treat it a purely law and order problem. The loss of lives and property during Partition and in the 1980s has been quite horrific. The SPGC should take steps so that history does not repeat itself.
There is no rationale behind wasting time, energy and resources on going to a Dera or a house of worship. On the contrary, our secular Constitution not only permits but also encourages, even finances, the practice of all religions and sects, at the taxpayers' expenses. For ages mankind has suffered due to religious intolerance and inter-sect feuds. Each new sect is a new religion in the making. Our society is already divided on religion and sect lines. Many Deras and Babas are indulging in politics, exploitation and crime.
Onkar S Goraya
The Sikhs do not allow anyone to play the part of their Gurus even in movies or plays. So how can they accept the chief of Dera Sacha Sauda trying to wear similar garments as Guru Gobind Singh and clone the amrit ceremony? The CBI has come under severe criticism from the courts for dragging its feet on the cases against the Dera chief. The Congress is trying to deliver on its part of the deal. After the Takht Sahib's diktat, the media started bifurcating Sikhs into liberals and hardliners. This brought back memories of the 1980s. Tolerance does not mean putting up with someone encroaching into your religious space. This would be cowardice or proof that you lack faith in your own religion.
This Dera episode has reopened some old wounds. And again Sikhs are being called hardliners and extremists. It was these hardliners who form only 2 per cent of India's population who made the maximum sacrifices for our independence. It was these hardliners who were in the forefront in all the wars that India has fought. And if India is attacked today, these hardliners will be the first to come to the defence of the country.
Religion cannot be mixed with secular activities of the State and fundamentalism of any kind cannot be permitted to masquerade as political philosophy. Any speech or action which results in underming communal harmony will destroy all those values which our Constitution lays down.
The welfare of the people is the ultimate goal of all laws. The fourth pillar of democracy should perform its duty by highlighting the corrupt practices of political parties. The Dera chief's move has sown the seeds of further division in an already fragmented society. The politico-bureaucratic nexus is not bothered about the hatred and discord among various sects; rather this suits them.
The Akal Takht's move to call for a Punjab bandh defies logic. It was politically motivated. Our Holy Guru Granth Sahib does not teach us to have an inflated ego. Respecting all human beings and their sentiments is the hallmark of Sikhism. How can we justify violence and the loss of lives in the name of our Gurus?
Around 15 per cent people in Punjab live below the poverty line and who is anyone to create a situation where they are deprived of their meager earnings? No Guru can sanction this sort of behaviour. I request all concerned to steer clear of these fraudulent proponents of religion.
Nobody talks about Khalistan but there is sense of Sikhs being nationless people. During Baishakhi, the photos of the alleged mastermind of Air India plane crash, Talwinder Singh Parmar, was openly displayed and very few talk against him. He is regarded as a martyr for the Sikh cause. Perhaps living in foreign land and when you are visible minority, the feeling of people without a nation has more impact than for those living in Punjab. And after the Dera issue, if you talk to people, the issue of Sikh homeland crops up.
Aman Preet Singh
When the Dera Sacha Sauda expressed regret over the happenings in Punjab, it seems to have unleashed a flood of demands for expressions of contrition for the dominion's role in projecting their chief as Guru Gobind Singh.
During a similar crisis 30 years ago in the form of Sikh-Nirankari clash, the same government was in power and two years later, the Nirankari chief was assassinated and President's rule imposed in Punjab. Four years later, the world saw the bloody battle being fought by our army against its own citizens. The nation faced dark years because of militancy in Punjab. Lakhs of precious lives were lost.
Writing an apology letter shortly after the offence can help save a relationship before a wound becomes a scar and the damage becomes irreparable.
Let us hope better sense will prevail.
Davinder Pal Singh
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