United in grief: Muslims, Hindus attend prayer for Partition victims at Akal Takht
Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh urges governments of India, Pakistan to pass condolence resolutions in Parliament, blames politics for communal violence
For the first time, members of the Muslim and Hindu communities joined the ardas (Sikh prayer) held at Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in memory of the lakhs of Punjabis who lost their lives during the communal riots during the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947.
The bhog (concluding ceremony) of the Akhand Path (uninterrupted recitation of Guru Granth Sahib) was held on Tuesday and hazuri ragis (traditional gurbani musicians) of Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple) performed the kirtan. It was followed by ardas that commemorated the sacrifices of the people during the partition of Punjab.
Members of the Muslim and Hindu communities were allotted space to sit near the installation of Guru Granth Sahib along with Sikh leaders during the function organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on the Akal Takht’s edict.
Addressing the function, Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, who had called for remembering the victims, asked the governments of India and Pakistan to pass condolence resolutions in their respective Parliaments for the lakhs of people who had lost their lives during Partition and suffered the pain of displacement.
“While celebrating the 75th anniversary of Independence, the governments of both the countries should have remembered the people who suffered pain of displacement by voluntarily passing the condolence resolutions,” he said.
Seeks open visa for those born before 1947
The acting jathedar said “open visas” should be granted to those born before 1947 on either side so that they can easily visit their birthplace, ancestral places and religious shrines.
“Punjabis suffered the most during Partition followed by Bengalis. People of the two states struggled most fiercely against the British and they were punished with partition of their states. Both states were divided and their properties confiscated,” Giani Harpreet Singh said.
The acting jathedar said while Punjabis lost lives in big numbers, they also had to leave their land, homes and shrines. “This pain is still alive in the minds of Punjabis. While they want to see their birthplace, they also long to visit their shrines. When Muslims going on Haj and Hindus visiting Sri Katas Raj temple is no crime, similarly, it is not just to stop Sikhs from visiting Sri Nankana Sahib and other Sikh shrines in Pakistan. The governments of both the countries should discuss this and grant visas with an open heart to people of every faith to visit their shrines,” he said.
Giani Harpreet Singh blamed politics for the violence, saying there was no dispute between religions.
Partition attack on Punjab’s culture: SGPC chief
“At present, the atmosphere in Punjab is worrying. Drug addiction and ecological crisis due carelessness towards nature are taking Punjab to the brink of destruction. Let us unite for it is our responsibility and duty towards our future generations. I appeal to people of Punjab follow a simple lifestyle according to the teachings of Gurus, so that prosperity of this region is maintained,” he said.
Speaking to the media after the function, SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami said: “Partition was an attack on the culture of Punjab. Many Sikh shrines in Pakistan are in neglect today. The government there should pay attention towards this.”
He said apart from Akal Takht, prayers were held in historical gurdwaras under the SGPC management to remember the victims of Partition.