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More Sikhs living overseas to be out of Centre’s blacklist: Rajnath Singh

RSS show: Union minister attends event sponsored by RSS-affiliate Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, which was boycotted by Akal Takht.

punjab Updated: Oct 26, 2017 17:48 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Rajnath,Rashtriya Sikh Sangat,Guru Gobind Singh
Union home minister Rajnath Singh (centre) and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat (2nd from right) with other leaders releasing a souvenir at a function organised to mark the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

Taking part in an event sponsored by RSS-affiliate Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, which was boycotted by the Akal Takht, Union home minister Rajnath Singh announced to delete more names of Sikhs living in foreign countries from the Centre’s blacklist, making it possible for them to visit India.

He said the BJP government has already deleted at least names of 100 Sikhs from the list.

The blacklisted Sikhs living in various foreign countries were barred from travelling to India, for being allegedly associated with the Khalistani movement between 1980s and 90s. A large number of Sikhs linked with the movement, particularly from Punjab, had then taken refuge in foreign countries.

Punjab BJP upset over Akali Dal boycotting RSS function to mark 350th birth year of Guru Gobind Singh

“The names of many people from various countries were blacklisted and they could not travel to India. Today, I want to inform you that the names more than 100 Sikhs have been removed from the list, and more to follow soon,” Singh said. Accepting the long pending demand of Sikh organisations, the minister said the BJP-led NDA government has always supported the cause of justice for the 1984 ant-Sikh riots.

He said a special investigation team (SIT) has already been announced to investigate the matter.

The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, the Sikh wing of the Rashtriya Swyamsewak Sangh (RSS), organised the event in New Delhi to mark the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.

Union Ministers Piyush Goyal, Harsh Vardhan, Hardeep Puri and Vijay Goel also attended the function.

Patna takht jathedar skips on health grounds

Meanwhile, Giani Iqbal Singh, jathedar (head priest) of the Takht Patna Sahib (one of the five temporal seats of Sikhs), stayed away from the event, citing health issues. He had initially agreed to be the chief guest at the event and his name was printed on the invitation cards.

Giani Iqbal Singh’s decision not to show up at the event comes in the wake of a diktat from Giani Gurbachan Singh, jathedar of the Akal Takht (the highest temporal seat of Sikhs), who on Monday called upon the community to boycott the function.

The Akal Takht jathedar had issued the directive after several Sikh organisations protested against the RSS’ alleged agenda to subsume Sikh identity into the Hinduism.

The jathedar asked the Sikhs to abide by a Takht hukamnama (edict) of July 2004 that had asked Sikhs not to support the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat’s march on completion of 400 years of Guru Granth Sahib.

Panthic sewa dal protests against RSS

Meanwhile, a group of Sikh activists belonging to the Panthic Sewa Dal staged a protest away from the Talktora stadium, the venue of the event, describing the Sikh wing of the RSS as “anti-Sikh”.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who delivered the valedictory address, said the life and teachings of Guru Gobind Singh were directed towards saving the Indian culture and ethos. Tracing lives of Sikh Gurus, he called upon people to follow them. He added that the leadership displayed by the Sikh Gurus is as relevant now as it was in their times.

Union Ministers Piyush Goyal, Harsh Vardhan, Hardeep Puri and Vijay Goel also attended the function.

First Published: Oct 25, 2017 21:24 IST