Amid the BJP’s objection to the Shiromani Akali Dal’s demand for the release of Sikh prisoners, the BJP government in Haryana on Thursday scuttled ex-militant Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa’s attempt to enter Punjab.
Gurbaksh, who has been on a fast since November 14, 2014, at Gurdwara Lakhnaur Sahib here over the Sikh prisoners’ issue, had planned to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar. However, the Haryana authorities didn’t allow him to proceed, citing a threat to law and order, and he was sent back to the gurdwara.
Haryana’s action was based on inputs from the central and Punjab governments, which did not want Khalsa to reach the Golden Temple and camp there. A senior government official said the Centre was keen to avoid a situation similar to the one in the early 1980s, when militant preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had camped at the shrine along with his armed followers.
Punjab had also deployed heavy police force at the Shambu barrier, the entry point to the state from Ambala.
The Haryana police stopped Gurbaksh outside Lakhnaur village around 1.30pm, as his cavalcade left for Amritsar. He was sitting in a specially-designed vehicle with walls of glass. The vehicle of Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann was also with the convoy, which included a bus and six other vehicles.
After four hours of sloganeering and parleys, the Ambala police led by commissioner OP Singh persuaded Gurbaksh to return to the gurdwara, even as the convoy left for the Golden Temple. Haryana also sealed all major roads leading to the gurdwara.
After reaching the gurdwara, Gurbaksh accused the Punjab government and the Akal Takht jathedar of scuttling his plan. “I have no grudge with the Haryana government as they acted at the behest of the Akali government, which doesn’t want me to enter Punjab. From Day One, I have been claiming that my fast and protest will remain peaceful. Then why is the Punjab government saying that my entry will disturb law and order in Punjab?” asked Gurbaksh.
Talking to HT, he said, “I am now left with only one option -- to lay down my life. I will die here by continuing my fast.” He lamented that the Punjab government didn’t allow him to fulfil his ‘last wish’ of paying obeisance at Harmandar Sahib. Gurbaksh alleged that the Akal Takht jathedar and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal were misleading the Sikh community, while accusing the jathedar of failing to keep his word that he would resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, Patiala deputy commissioner Varun Roojam, inspector general Paramjit Singh Gill, senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurmeet Singh Chauhan and a 1,000-strong police force camped for the entire day at the check post. After coming to know that Gurbaksh had returned to the gurdwara, senior officers left for Patiala, but the police force stayed put.