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Ignoring protests, Badal given top honour
Perneet Singh/TNS

Amritsar, December 5
Ignoring voices of dissent from various Sikh organisations, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was today bestowed upon the title of “Panth Rattan Fakhr-e-Qaum” by the Akal Takht in recognition of his outstanding contribution and glorious services rendered by him during his long Panthic and political career.

At a ceremony organised at the Akal Takht, the five Sikh high priests, including Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, Badal was felicitated with “siropa” (robe of honour), a sword and a silver plaque with inscription of the citation of “Panth Rattan Fakhr-e-Qaum” amidst slogans of “Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akal”. Badal, who sat on a stool, got a helping hand from his Deputy CM son Sukhbir Badal to receive the award from the Sikh high priests who were standing atop the front portion of the Akal Takht.

In his address, the Akal Takht Jathedar lauded the glorious services rendered by Badal for the preservation of Sikh heritage by erecting memorials of Sikh martyrs, besides being imprisoned for long time and having faced atrocities during various Akali movements (morchas). Giani Gurbachan Singh underlined that the responsibilities of any person who had been honoured by Sri Akal Takht Sahib were increased manifold.

In his brief address after receiving the award, Badal said, “I had never expected that I would get such a huge honour from the Sikh community.” He said he would uphold the trust with which the award had been bestowed on him and would make more efforts to offer his services to the Panth. He thanked Sikh high priests and the Sikh Sangat for the honour.

Later, in an apparent bid to clear the air on the controversy surrounding the award, the Sikh high priests held a press conference at the Akal Takht secretariat. The Akal Takht Jathedar said, “Whosoever will work in the interests of the Sikh Panth he will be awarded by the Akal Takht, irrespective of his political affiliations.” He said Badal had made immense contribution to the Sikh Panth by making a series of memorials which would continue to inspire future generations.

“Our history was restricted to books prior to his great initiative,” he added. According to him, the award was bestowed on the CM following a recommendation from the SGPC in that regard.

He clarified that neither Badal had sought this award nor had it been given to him in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections. Replying to a query, he said the Sikh high priests were also mulling to honour Marathon man Fauja Singh, Baba Sewa Singh Khadursahibwale and Baba Balbeer Singh Seechewal.

On the tradition of giving “Panth Rattan” award posthumously, he said Master Tara Singh got the award in his lifetime. On protests over the issue, he said those protesting against the award should adopt a constructive mindset and come together to deal with the challenges being faced by the community.

Meanwhile, various Sikh organisations have flayed the move to give Badal the title of “Panth Rattan Fakhr-e-Qaum”. Radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa leader Kanwar Pal Singh said, “The Akal Takht Jathedar has written a black chapter in the history of supreme temporal seat by honouring a person with “Panth Rattan Fakhr-e-Qaum’ title who is neither dutiful nor faithful to the Panth. SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar and Gurbachan Singh have surpassed all records of sycophancy to appease their political master.”

AISSF chief Karnail Singh Peermohammed also urged the Akal Takht to reconsider bestowing of the award on the CM and call Sarbat Khalsa to determine if Badal, a political personality, was a deserving candidate for the award. “Throughout his political career Badal has continuously defied principles of Sikhism for political gains. So much so that to fulfil his political ambitions, Badal had unceremoniously removed last two Jathedars of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh and Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti.”

Prominent among those who attended the award ceremony included Cabinet ministers Dr Upinderjit Kaur, Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Hira Singh Gabria, Sucha Singh Langah, Ajit Singh Kohar, Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, SGPC president Avtar Singh, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Rattan Singh Ajnala (all MPs), Youth Akali Dal chief Bikram Singh Majithia, former SGPC chief Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra, adviser to Chief Minister Daljeet Singh Cheema and media adviser Harcharan Bains. 





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