The Akal Takht on Thursday asked the political parties to abstain from holding rallies at the annual Shaheedi Jor Mela in Sirhind on December 26, even as the Punjab government was preparing a similar order. This will be for the first time in the last five decades that the historic Jor Mela, organised every year at Gurudwara Sri Fatehgarh Sahib to commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons — Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh — will be held without any political conference as the major parties have decided to abide by the instruction.
The instruction from Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh came at a time when the Punjab government was itself preparing to issue a direction to the Deputy Commissioner of Fatehgarh Sahib not to give permission for any political rallies, considering the demands of the local residents. Minutes later, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) issued a statement announcing cancellation of its political conference.
The ruling Congress too issued a statement with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and PPCC chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar announcing that the party was not organising any rally. It also appealed the same to other political parties. The Congress statement said that the party had decided against holding any political conference, considering the “sentiments of (the local) people and the sanctity of the occasion.”
“The chief minister felt that the martyrdom day of Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh, the young Sahibzadas of the 10th Sikh Master, Sri Guru Gobind Singhji, and his mother Mata Gujri should be observed with utmost reverence. It is a solemn occasion that should not be used by vested interests as a platform to gain political mileage,” the statement read. Sources close to the chief minister said he may go to the mela to pay obeisance at Gurudwara Sri Fatehgarh Sahib. Amarinder’s itinerary, however, includes a visit to Takht Patna Sahib on December 22 and 23 for the celebrations of 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru. The Punjab government is also organising a celebration at Anandpur Sahib on December 26. Jakhar claimed that decision was in line with various path-breaking initiatives taken by Amarinder during his earlier tenure as Chief Minister to restore the sacredness of the mela at Fatehgarh Sahib. “These included simplification of langar, banning of sweets, prohibition of entertainment or amusement and gambling,” said the PPCC chief.
The Aam Aadmi Party had already announced it would not organise any rally on the occasion. Former deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh, who had been spearheading a campaign against holding political rallies at the event for a decade, recalled that Akalis started holding conference at the mela before the trifurcation of Punjab. After Amarinder took over as the state president of Congress, he started organising rallies at the mela to confront the Akalis.
“It is a victory of the Fatehgarh Sahib residents who have spearheaded a campaign against political conferences. Every year we have been holding dharnas. Earlier, some overzealous langar organisers would distribute ladoos and jalebis to the devotees. We stopped that. Then joy rides were put up. We protested against that too. The only irritant was the political conferences that would dominate the solemn affair,” he said. Only on Wednsday, Bir Devinder had led a group of villagers to hold a dharna outside a tent being erected for the SAD rally.