Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday described the absence of the Sikh regiment from the Republic Day parade as ‘sad and regrettable’.
In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Badal pointed towards ‘a widespread feeling of hurt and resentment caused by non-inclusion of the Sikh Regiment in the Republic Day parade where French President François Hollande was the chief guest’.
“As a vibrant and fiercely patriotic minority community in the country, the Sikhs are always seen as the most powerful symbol of this multi-dimensional identity and secular character of the country,” the letter goes on to add, adding that the Sikhs had a strong presence in the Armed forces and their patriotism was something that the entire country took pride in.
“The exclusion of the Sikh regiment from the parade would be regrettable at any time, but it was doubly so this year because of the presence of the French president as a special guest at the event.
The Sikhs have been facing several practices in France that amount to the denial of freedom to observe fundamental religious practices to the community, including a ban on the wearing of turbans,” he said.
“This would have been an appropriate occasion to demonstrate to the French dignitary the place of the Sikh community in India’s rich cultural identity and its contribution to the cause of freedom,” he added.