MP Ravneet Bittu shows the video of Akal Takht Jathedar Harpreet Singh while speaking to the media. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)
LUDHIANA LOK Sabha MP Ravneet Singh Bittu on Saturday accused Akal Takht Jathedar Harpreet Singh of “promoting and encouraging killers and hence giving the wrong message to Sikh youths in Punjab that those who will kill will be appreciated and honoured”.
He further said that Harpreet Singh should focus on religious affairs not politics, but if he wishes to interfere in politics, then he must fight an election.
Bittu, the grandson of former chief minister late Beant Singh, was reacting to a video in which Jathedar Harpreet Singh, head of the highest temporal seat of the Sikh community, is purportedly seen delivering a speech at the bhog ceremony of the mother of Paramjit Singh Bheora, who was among those convicted for the assassination of his (Bittu’s) grandfather. In the clip, the jathedar is also purportedly heard appreciating those who executed the assassination and calling them “veer yoddhey”.
The Akal Takht jathedar is heard saying in the video, “Jis mukh mantri de raaz vich eh sab kuch ho reha si...uss mukh mantri nu sodheya ehna saadey soor veer yoddheyan ne (The CM under whose regime all that was happening, that CM was punished by our courageous warriors)... “
Addressing the media in Ludhiana, Bittu said, “Someone has killed someone, he is a murderer and look at this man sitting on Sikh community’s highest seat and saying that what the killers did was right. He is openly promoting and appreciating the killers. He is giving a message to Sikh community that those who will kill someone will be honored and appreciated. Punjab is already troubled with gun culture, weapons, gangsters... and now Akal Takht jatheder will issue such statements and instigate Sikh community to indulge in violence. This is unacceptable,” said Bittu.
“Sodha karna, matlab kisi nu maarna. He is saying in Punjabi that people who killed my grandfather did the right thing. He has in fact also insulted all those Punjabis who voted either for my grandfather and made him CM or others in the family who contested elections. He has insulted all those people who elected us,” the MP further said, adding, “Akal Takht Jathedar has nothing to do with politics. He should talk about religious affairs, preach Sikhism instead of interfering in politics.”
Bittu further alleged that Harpreet Singh has been holding the post of Akal Takht jathedar “without having any capability” and on the basis of his proximity to Badals. “Eh parchi Badalan di jeb chon nikaldi hai.. apni koi qabliyat tan hai nahi (This slip comes out of pocket of Badals. He has no capability of his own)...I challenge him to contest MP polls or even a small election and prove himself, his popularity or reverence among common masses,” he said.
An Akal Takht Jathedar whom entire Sikh community listens to cannot promote violence and appreciate murderers, said Bittu, adding, “He should be sacked immediately. He cannot give speeches encouraging killers and calling them brave warriors. He is directly giving a message to the youths that those who will pick up weapons, kill people will be appreciated and honoured. Soon, I will be meeting him and asking the meaning of ‘sodhna’...”
Professor Surjit Singh, head of the department of Punjabi language, Punjabi University, Patiala, said that the word “sodhna” or “sodheya” in Punjabi has been used for “killings” since the militancy period in Punjab. “Though it literally means ‘improving’ something, it is practically being used for killings. Since the militancy period in Punjab, whenever militants used to kill someone, it was called ‘sodhna’,” he said.