Rolling out Christmas bonanza for the Christian community in Punjab, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday announced that the government would construct a ‘Massihi Bhavan’ in all sub divisions of the state.
Addressing a gathering during a state-level function to celebrate Christmas here, the chief minister said these bhavans would act as a catalyst for the all-round development of the Christian community. Badal said it was a matter of great pride and honour for them that the SAD-BJP alliance had initiated the programme of constructing these bhavans first at the district level and now the scheme was being extended to the sub-division level to facilitate the community at these levels.
Reiterating the firm commitment of his government to ensure the progress and development of the community, he said his government would leave no stone unturned for the noble cause.
The chief minister said the government was committed to make all-out efforts to provide suitable land for burial grounds required by the community across the state and necessary directions had already been passed to deputy commissioners of all districts.
Badal said the government was duty-bound to provide land for the burial grounds to the Christian community.
Likewise, Badal said a large number of pro-poor schemes had been launched by the government for the welfare of the community.
He said the government had extended the ‘Shagun’ scheme to the girls of the community too and scholarship to the students of the community to pursue school/ college education was being awarded.
“If someone is facing any sort of difficulty in availing these benefits, he/ she can directly approach me,” he added.
Lauding the community for rendering marvelous services in the field of education and healthcare, the chief minister said the community had been rendering its services to the people with true zeal and commitment.
Badal said he was highly grateful to the community for making stupendous efforts to serve the poor and needy, adding the state government would extend fulsome support and cooperation to the community in this regard.
He said the firm commitment and dedication of the Christian community inspired every individual to serve the mankind in real sense.
Drawing a parallel between the Christians and the Sikhs, the chief minister said both the communities had a rich tradition of fighting against tyranny, oppression and injustice.
He said while Lord Jesus Christ laid down his life for the sake of peace, communal harmony and love, the great Sikh Gurus Nanak Dev, Arjun Dev, Teg Bahadur and Gobind Singh also vehemently pleaded for universal brotherhood and love to all by opposing the mighty rulers.
Terming the SAD-BJP alliance government as the most secular government in the country, Badal said the government had taken path breaking initiatives for the welfare of each and every strata of the society.
Citing an example, he said Punjab was probably the only state in the country where a state-level function was held to celebrate Christmas.
Likewise, he said the alliance government had given due representation to every minority in the Punjab Minority Commission, the chairman of which was from the Christian community.
“We are following the footsteps of the great Sikh Gurus, who have taught us the message of communal harmony, love, brotherhood, peace and above all of egalitarian society with pure secular character,” he added.
Earlier in his address, revenue and information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia lauded the role played by the Christian community in the development of the country in general and that of state in particular.
Terming the prosperity and development of every religion was important for the progress of the country and prosperity of its people, Majithia said he was proud to be a soldier of Badal, who had dedicated his life for the sake of communal harmony, peace and amity in the state.
He said despite of his busy schedule, the chief minster himself attended the programme of every community and religion to express his love for them.
Expressing concern over recent incidents of “forcible conversions” in some parts of the country, Majithia assured the Christian community that it might have happen anywhere in India, but it would never be allowed on the sacred land of Punjab.
At the time when India was on the path of becoming as a global leader such issues which rocked Parliament peeved them, said Majithia, adding that for the progress of the nation every religion and community should prosper in the country.
“Under the visionary and farsighted leadership of Badal, Punjab has emerged as an epitome of peace, communal harmony and brotherhood and we vow to protect this unique character of our state,” he added.
On the occasion, chairman of the Punjab Minorities Commission Munawar Masih welcomed the chief minister and other dignitaries.