On 27 March, The Akal Takht - the highest temporal body of the Sikh community - issued a strong message on the ongoing crackdown in Punjab. It has asked the Punjab government to release all the 'innocent' people who had been arrested or detained as part of the crackdown on Waris Punjab De and its leader Amritpal Singh.
The Akal Takht made this announcement at a high level meeting of Sikh organisations, intellectuals, activists and journalists called by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh.
The Akal Takht also announced that it will be initiating a Khalsa Vaheer against drugs and anti-Sikh lifestyle and practises. Khalsa Vaheer is an old practise of propagating Sikh faith but recently this drive was being spearheaded by Amritpal Singh before the crackdown.
Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh also questioned what he called the Centre's double standards - of arresting Sikh activists on one hand and taking no action against Hindutva leaders who threaten minorities and call for a Hindu Rashtra.
What Are the Main Demands Laid Down by the Akal Takht and SGPC?
24-hour ultimatum to government to release 'innocent youth' arrested in the recent crackdown and dropping of National Security Act imposed on them.
The seized vehicles of the Sikhs who were peacefully protesting at Harike should be released immediately
Withheld/banned web channels and social media accounts should be activated immediately.
Action against officers who wrongly presented Khalsa symbol and flag as that of Khalistan.
As an act of protest against 'false propaganda against Sikh flags and symbols', Jathedar Akal Takht also asked the Sikhs to display flags of the Khalsa state on their vehicles and homes.
What Did the Akal Takht Jathedar Say?
“A very cunning siege is being carried out by the state against Sikhs, which should be answered diplomatically without being violent.”
“On one hand, in this democratic and communally diverse India, announcements are made publicly to create a Hindu Rashtra by suppressing minorities, but no action is being taken against the people who make such inflammatory statements. On the other hand, governments do not hesitate to impose black laws on Sikhs who present their views within the democratic framework.”
“If the government does not end the atmosphere of terror by releasing all the youth within 24 hours, then a campaign will be initiated diplomatically in India and abroad.”
“Legal action will be taken by Sikh organizations against the character assassination of Sikhs by the government through the national media.”
SGPC president Advocate Harjinder Singh Dhami announced the setting up of a panel of lawyers to help the Sikh youths booked under the National Security Act and provide other legal assistance.
Besides the Akal Takht Jathedar and the SGPC president, prominent attendees at the meeting included head Granthi of Sachkhand Sri Harmandar Sahib Giani Jagtar Singh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib Giani Raghbir Singh, SGPC President Harjinder Singh Dhami, former Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Jasvir Singh Rode, Manjit Singh GK and Bhupinder Singh of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, chief spokesperson of Damdami Taksal Baba Sukhdev Singh, and Sikh personalities from different fields.