The “jathedars” appointed in last year’s “Sarbat Khalsa” Saturday announced to hold the congregation this year on December 8 at Talwandi Sabo. The event was first scheduled for November 10, but was postponed indefinitely following a massive crackdown by the Punjab Police on those associated with organising the event.
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The new date of “Sarbat Khalsa” is set to create ripples in ruling Shiromani Akali Dal as it coincides with state government’s “Paani Bachao, Punjab Bachao” rally at Moga on December 8 to oppose the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal project. The SAD may find it difficult to mobilise people for the Moga rally on the same day.
In the run-up to November 10 “Sarbat Khalsa”, several preventive arrests were made citing maintenance of law and order. SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann and United Akali Dal president Mohkam Singh, the chief organisers of the event in 2015, were among those on the run to escape arrests and eventually the November 10 event was postponed.
Last year, the SAD-BJP government was shaken by the massive response to the congregation. A number of those associated with last year’s congregation were subsequently booked for sedition for allegedly raising the separatist agenda. This time, SAD chose not to take any chances. First, it denied the permission for the event and subsequently launched a massive crackdown on organisers.
The organisers of “Sarbat Khalsa” said the agenda of the congregation was to free Sikh institutions like Akal Takht and SGPC from the “government control”. In a statement, they said the event would be held in a peaceful manner. They accused Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal of “stalling the November 10 congregation for political reasons”.
SAD (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann and United Akali Dal chief Mohkam Singh are also eyeing 2017 elections and the congregation at Talwandi Sabo is being seen as a pre-poll exercise to make a dent into Panthic vote bank, considered a core constituency of SAD.
A former MP, Mann has already initiated a campaign “Sarkaar-e-Khalsa” (Khalsa government) in 2017” as he prepares for the 2017 Assembly polls batting for “a Sikh state”.
“The sun of Sikh rule that set in 1839 will rise again in 2017,” says “Mission Sarkaar-e-Khalsa” launched by Mann, referring to the end of rule of legendary Sikh warrior Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839.
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