US-based radical organisation Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) protested against Aam Aadmi Party’s Punjab convener and film actor Gurpreet Ghuggi at Tracy, California, on Wednesday, calling him “anti-Sikh”.
The protesters claim that Ghuggi was on the team of artistes that then-Punjab-DGP (director general of police) KPS Gill assembled in the 1990s to perform in the state’s villages “to divert public attention from police excesses against Sikhs” (during militancy).
“Ghuggi also hurt Sikh sentiments by comparing his party leaders from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh to the Panj Pyaras (five beloved ones of the Guru),” SFJ legal adviser Gurpatwant Singh Pannun told HT over telephone on Thursday. “Why did the AAP make a comedian its Punjab convener when it has a more able leader in (senior lawyer) Harvinder Singh Phoolka?”
Pannun claimed that Ghuggi had said in a public address in Amritsar on September 4 that: “If first of the Panj Pyaras came from Lahore, the second was from Uttar Pradesh, and Guru Gobind Singh didn’t question why he was from outside Punjab.”
The SFJ said Ghuggi had earlier praised Punjab Police on national television, crediting it with “paving the way for cultural performances in the 1990s by controlling terrorism”. “The protest against Ghuggi is a wake-up call to the AAP that, so far, had the backing of Khalistan supporters in the US and Canada,” said Pannun.
Reportedly, sensing trouble, Ghuggi has sought an apology but the SFJ has rejected it as “lame, before a thin gathering”.
SFJ international policy director Amardeep Singh Purewal said since Ghuggi failed to tender unconditional apology to radical-Sarbat-Khalsa-appointed (parallel) “jathedar” (and Beant Singh assassination convict) Jagtar Singh Hawara, they will “mobilise Sikhs to confront him across America with protests”.
Speaking on the SFJ’s losing credibility for opposing all leaders coming to North America from Punjab, Pannun said: “We oppose only those who support anti-Sikh tirade in India.”
Ghuggi said the protesters were only a handful of people, against the 1,500 who had come to listen to him on weeklong tour to the US. He said he hasn’t sought apology but only “clarified certain things”, asking the American Punjabis to ignore rabble rousers. “If the people’s sentiments are hurt due to misinformation spread against me, I am ready to seek apology,” he said. On Friday, he will address Punjabis in California’s Fresno town and then leave for New York.