Darshan Singh Pheruman and Sant Fateh Singh are known for their contributions to the Punjabi Suba Movement. The Punjab government, led by Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), however, has been treating the two differently in the 50th year of the movement.
Despite promises by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in 2014, his government did not organise any function to observe the death anniversary of Pheruman at his native village Pheruman in Amritsar district on Thursday. Even Pheruman’s family has not been invited to the Punjabi Suba function in Amritsar on November 1.
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But, a pre-scheduled birth anniversary of Fateh Singh was observed at Badiala, his native village, in Bathinda district, on Thursday. The function is usually held on October 30 every year. This year, it was held in advance due to the busy schedule of SAD leaders and the government due to the Punjabi Suba celebrations in Amritsar where Sant Fateh Singh’s family has been invited.
Former MP Darshan Singh Pheruman remained a Congressman for most of his life and became a martyr of the Punjabi Suba movement when he died on the 74th day of his hunger strike while pushing for various demands regarding the movement. Fateh Singh, though, was a traditional Akali.
Navtej Singh, great-grandson of Pheruman, organised a religious programme to mark the latter’s death anniversary in Pheruman. He was surprised at the presence of state minister Bikram Singh Majithia on the occasion.
“I work in SAD. I went to invite Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal for this function, but couldn’t meet them. I had also invited other Cabinet ministers, including Bikram Singh Majithia. But, frankly speaking, I was not expecting any VIP. So, I was surprised to know today morning that Majithia was coming. Local MLA Manpreet Singh Manna and Manjinder Singh Sirsa also came,” he said.
“It was nice that these leaders came. It would be better if the death anniversary of my great grandfather is observed by the state as promised by Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal when he last attended his anniversary in 2014. I am also expecting that our family would be given a more important role in politics by SAD,” added Singh. Meanwhile, minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon, MP Balwinder Singh Bhunder and former Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee president Bibi Jagir Kaur attended the birth anniversary celebrations of Sant Fateh Singh, which was more of a political rally, in Badiala. Sukhvirpal Singh Badiala, nephew of Sant Fateh Singh and and who holds a government job, said, “This year, the government has organised a function to mark the birth anniversary three days in advance as it was clashing with the Punjabi Suba celebrations. Our family has also been invited for that.”
He added, “SAD has shown respect to our family. But, it is time that old Akali families like ours were given more representation in politics by the party. By doing so, SAD would not have to look up to non-Akali leaders like sportsman Pargat Singh, who backstabs the party in the hour of need.”