Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh said on 6 June that the Sikh community would accept Khalistan — a separate state for Sikhs — if the government were to offer it. The jathedar of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, was talking to journalists on the 36th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, which the Indira Gandhi government had carried out between 1 and 8 June in 1984 to flush out heavily-armed terrorists holed up in the Golden Temple complex.
“If the Indian government offers us Khalistan, what else do we need? We will accept it. Which Sikh is there in the world, who doesn’t want it?” Giani H Singh said.
The jathedar said at the press conference, when asked about sloganeering at Akal Takht in favour of Khalistan during and after his anniversary speech, “There is nothing wrong if slogans are raised after the function. If the government gives us Khalistan, what more can we ask for? We shall accept it. Every Sikh wants Khalistan.”
The Giani H Singh went on to clarify: “Guru Nanak Dev ji had laid the foundation of Begampura. Guru Hargobind Singh ji founded Akal Takht. It is our great sovereign commitment.”
Installed as the Akal Takht jathedar in October 2018, Giani Harpreet Singh, who is doing PhD in Comparative Study of Teachings of the Qur’an, the holy scripture of Muslims, and Guru Granth Sahib, is known for stoking controversies. Last August, he had called for the protection of Kashmiris following the virtual abrogation of Article 370 by India’s parliament. He had accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, of dividing society in the same breath.
More recently, during his Baisakhi address in April this year, Singh had raised the issue of stigmatisation of patients of coronavirus disease (COVID) belonging to a particular religion. He had said, “We would like to tell the government — both at the Centre and in the state — ‘don’t discriminate on the basis of religion while giving aid and rations’.”
Before the jathedar‘s address to the press, the Takht had seen a bhog ceremony, ardas and kirtan in memory of those killed in the Operation Bluestar.
During the function, which was held even as heavy rains pounded the venue, the jathedar delivered his sandesh (address) where he mentioned police restrictions for devotees at the Golden Temple. “Sikhs lack unity. This is the why there are these restrictions,” he said.
Singh said, “The community members need to sit together to achieve the goals set by the Sikh leaders in 1984. For this purpose, we need good policy and honesty,” while paying tribute to slain terrorists Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who had led the armed men into the Golden Temple, which necessitated Operation Bluestar.
Acting Jathedar Dhian Singh Mand, who was present at the complex along with radical Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Sakhira and others, read out his sandesh too.
A majority of people in the gathering were Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) employees and police in plainclothes.
Despite making efforts, the police and SGPC staff could not ensure social distancing inside the complex to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal, which was once headed by Bhindranwale, observed the anniversary of Operation Bluestar too at its headquarters Chowk Mehta in the district.