Akal Takht acting Jathedar, Giani Harpreet Singh, has slammed the attempts by certain sections to blame Muslims for the spread of COVID-19 in India and to put the entire Sikh community in the dock for the attack on a policeman at Patiala.
“In Delhi, a Jamaat held a congregation and a few people were infected by the virus. Why is the entire Muslim community being blamed? A granthi was infected by the virus, there was an attempt to put the entire (Sikh) community in the dock,Giani Harpreet Singh
Regarding the Patiala incident, he said, “Some people’s only job is to criticise and vilify Sikhs. Take the incident which took place at Patiala. The policeman who was injured is also a Sikh. Even if he wasn’t, the attack would still have been condemnable. But on the media and social media, some people spewed venom against Sikhs. There was an attempt to blame the entire community.”
‘Religious Discrimination A Shame on Humanity’
Giani Harpeet Singh who heads the highest temporal body of Sikhs - the Akal Takht - was speaking on the occasion of Baisakhi, which marks the foundation of the Khalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Here’s his full speech.
According to him, religious discrimination is a shame on humanity.
“What sort of a country is this? What times are we living in? If a Hindu commits a crime, or a Sikh commits a crime or if a Muslim commits a crime, the standards are different in all three cases. When this happens, the head of any humanity-loving person will fall in shame,” the Jathedar said.
Ever since he took over has the acting head of the Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh has been taking strong positions on a number of political issues - he urged Sikhs to protect Kashmiris after abrogation of Article 370 and spoke out against violent attacks on Muslims. He even took on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, accusing it of dividing society.
Coming back to the COVID-19 crisis, the Jathedar warned both the central government and the state government in Punjab not to discriminate on the basis of religion.
“We completely agree with the government’s orders. But we would also 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.”Giani Harpreet Singh
Giani Harpreet Singh also voiced his disapproval about incidents of religious discrimination that have taken place in Punjab in the name of COVID-19.
People have stopped taking milk from (Muslim) Gujjars in Punjab. Why?Giani Harpreet Singh
He also condemned incidents in the Doaba region in which a few villages refused entry to Gujjar Muslim milk sellers.
The Jathedar said that there is no scope for communalism or racism when we are fighting such a massive pandemic.
Significantly, he also spoke out against stigmatisation of individual COVID-19 patients.
“Not just in India, in the entire world, there should be no discrimination - he is Hindu, he is a Muslim, he is a Sikh, he is Chinese, he is a culprit. He’s not a culprit. In this pandemic, we should try to unite entire mankind.
The Jathedar further urged the Sikh community to help those in need, during the COVID-19 pandemic, while taking all the necessary precations.
“We have to serve, come what may. Whether a government likes it or not, whether a community likes it or not,” he said