Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar on Sunday accused the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of leaving behind a “shameful legacy of religious sacrilege” and alleged the government led by it had gone all out to erode religious institutions in the state. On the telecast of “obnoxious” advertisements on liquor in LED screens installed on the heritage street leading to the Golden Temple on June 9, Jakhar said, “This is also a heritage from the Akalis, who had given out 15-year contracts for these screens in sheer haste and had failed to control ad content.” He said former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal were “responsible” for this contract. “Why are they blaming us now?” he asked, in a statement at Chandigarh.
“The Badals had evidently engaged in the entire transaction for commercial gains for themselves. They seemed to have been interested only in pushing up footfalls, without appreciating the fact that the place was a centre of pilgrimage for people from around the world and its sanctity needed to be maintained at all costs,” he said.
Jakhar said no such attempt to demolish the religious institutions through sacrilegious attacks or any other means would be tolerated.
“We will not allow such things to continue,” he said.
The Congress government, which has ordered a fresh inquiry into all cases of sacrilege and desecration, including the much-publicised Bargari firing incident, is striving hard to rid the state of this disgraceful legacy, the Congress leader said.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered an inquiry into the telecast of liquor advertisements.
Terming the incident as “unfortunate and derogatory”, the chief minister had vowed to maintain the sanctity of holy places at all costs.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex religious body of the Sikhs, said the government should have straightaway taken action against those responsible for screening the “liquor advertisements”, suggesting that there was no need to order a probe.
“LED screens were meant to telecast Gurbani (religious hymns). It is unfortunate that instead of Gurbani, liquor advertisements have been screened, which has hurt the religious sentiments of the Sikhs and other devotees who visit the Darbar Sahib.
“The government has ordered an inquiry, but an inquiry is ordered when some facts are not clear. Here, it is a clear violation and those guilty should be punished,” SGPC President Kripal Singh Badungar told reporters in Amritsar today.
The opposition party Shiromani Akali Dal has strongly condemned the screening of the advertisements on the LED screens.
Union minister and senior SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal slammed the Congress government over the matter.
“The screening of these advertisements have hurt the sentiments of all the devotees who visit the Darbar Sahib daily,” she said.
Hitting out at the Congress government in the state, Harsimrat asked, “What else can you expect from them when the state’s cultural affairs minister (Navjot Singh Sidhu) dubs Virasat-e-Khalsa (historic monument in Anandpur Sahib) as a white elephant?”
SAD leader and former Punjab Minister Daljit Singh Cheema said, “We strongly condemn the telecast of commercial advertisements of liquor on the LED screens installed to telecast Gurbani on the heritage street in Amritsar.”
Cheema also demanded an apology from the chief minister and a thorough probe into the whole episode to punish the guilty at the earliest.