Should ‘Nihangs’ be permitted to enter the sensitive Attari joint border check post to witness the beating retreat ceremony drill, in which jawans of the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistani Rangers take part ever evening ?
The security agencies, including the BSF and the Punjab Police, have no objections provided they do not enter the check post perimeter wearing a long sword, which is considered a security threat.
Nihangs, whether baptised or non-baptised, prefer to wear or carry a long sword along with the shorter version, known as ‘kirpan’ over their long blue robes.
The issue came up on Sunday evening when a group of Nihangs along with their baptised children were not permitted to witness the retreat ceremony. There were objections to the long sword they were wearing or carrying in their hands.
SGPC criticises BSF
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar, who probably came to know of the incident on Tuesday, was quick to react and did not bother to check the facts.
“It is unfortunate that the BSF stopped a group of Nihangs and some baptised children from witnessing the retreat ceremony. It is all the more unfortunate that such an incident should have happened in our own country,” he said in a statement issued from the SGPC headquarters here.
Makkar has demanded an inquiry into the incident and action against those responsible for stopping the Nihangs. He pointed out that wearing of a ‘kirpan’ was a must for all baptised Sikhs as it was one of their five religious symbols.
BSF clarifies stand
When contacted, BSF DIG (Amritsar sector) M F Farooqui told Hindustan Times that the BSF had not stopped anyone from witnessing the retreat ceremony.
“We too were informed of this incident and on checking up we found that the Nihangs who had long swords were stopped at the very first check, which is outside the check post boundary. This check point is manned by the Punjab Police and they were one’s who had stopped the Nihangs due to security reasons,” he clarified.
The DIG said, “We have never stopped baptised Sikhs with kirpans (short daggers) from witnessing the ceremony. Each day there are so many baptised Sikhs among the spectators.”
“However, carrying long swords is strictly prohibited to the retreat ceremony. This is done due to security reasons as this is a very sensitive area and it is the duty of the BSF to ensure that all is well at the check post.”