SGPC to urge PM to take up hate crime against Sikhs in US at diplomatic level
The “identity crisis” that makes Sikhs a soft target of hate crimes in the United States (US) and other Western countries, will be an issue that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) will take up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the Golden Temple here on Monday.punjab Updated: Mar 20, 2015 21:44 IST
The “identity crisis” that makes Sikhs a soft target of hate crimes in the United States (US) and other Western countries, will be an issue that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) will take up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the Golden Temple here on Monday.
This will be Modi’s first visit to Punjab after becoming PM.
He will be landing at Amritsar from where he will go to Hussianiwala in Ferozepur for taking part in the martyrdom day function of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. On his way back, he will pay obeisance at the Golden Temple, the Durgiana Mandir and also visit the Jallianwala Bagh before returning to the national capital.
“We will be taking up with the PM the issue of increasing cases of hate crime against Sikhs in the US and other countries. Though we are making effort to acquaint the Western nations of our separate and distinct identity, we would like the central government to take up the matter at the diplomatic level with the countries concerned so that Sikhs feel safe in their adopted countries,” stated SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar.
Talking to Hindustan Times on Friday, he pointed out that the cases of hate crime against Sikhs started taking place after the 9/11 terror strikes, and since then these have been on the rise. A number of communiques had been sent to the central government for taking up the matter at the diplomatic level with the countries concerned, but unfortunately nothing was done, he added.
Another issue, which the SGPC will take up with the PM, will be the ban imposed on wearing of head gears, including turban (patka) by school going children. France imposed a ban a few years back and despite the matter having been taken up with the French government, nothing was done to lift this ban.
“We will ask the PM to take up this issue in an effect manner with France so that the ban is lifted as the turban is an important religious symbol of the Sikhs ", he added.
Another issue that the SGPC will take up with the PM is setting up of a Pakistan visa centre in Amritsar. “This is a longstanding demand as it will make obtaining visas to Pakistan easier, as currently these are issued only in Delhi,” he added.
The Kartarpur corridor demand will also figure in the talks with the PM. Kartarpur is situated just across the Ravi river close to of Dera Baba Nanak. It is at this place that Guru Nanak breathed his last and a gurdwara stands in the guru’s remembrance, which is a mere 2 km from the Indian border. Over the past few years, the Sikhs have been demanding a corridor between the Indian town Dera Baba Nanak and Kartarpur in Pakistan so that pilgrims can just walk down this passageway to pay obeisance and return that too without any passport or visa.
“Both the Pakistan and Indian governments have already studied this plan. President Pranab Mukherjee had come to Dera Baba Nanak when he was external affairs minister and had promised to take up the issue with Pakistan,” said the SGPC chief.
The SGPC may also take up the issue of a ban imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on entry of baptised Sikhs into venues hosting the on-going World Cup cricket. Baptised Sikhs are stopped due to security reasons as the ‘kirpan’ they wear is taken as a security threat.
“We will not touch the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC) or Sehajdhari issues as these are pending before the Supreme Court,” said Makkar, while pointing out that their demands will be presented before the PM in the form of a memorandum.