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"PM Modi has done a lot for Sikhs and Sikhism": Former pro-Khalistan leader
New Delhi: The founder of Dal Khalsa and former pro-Khalistan leader Jaswant Singh Thekedar has lauded the work undertaken and accomplished by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the country's Sikh community, saying that he admires the community and has done a lot for its people.
In an interview with ANI, Thekedar said, "Our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has done a lot for Sikhs and Sikhism. He loves our community. He has done a lot -- ended the blacklists, opened Kartarpur Corridor, and talked about Chhote Sahibzadas (the sons of Guru Gobind Singh)." He said the Central government led by PM Modi has worked to meet major demands put forward by members of the Sikh community.
"The government has worked on major demands, and only a few demands and left to be fulfilled. All will be good if they agree to meet these demands," he said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Modi had met prominent Sikhs from across the country at his official residence, 7 Lok Kalyan Marg. The delegation thanked the Prime Minister for taking steps for the welfare of the Sikh community, and especially for honouring Chaar Sahibzaade through his decision to declare December 26 every year as Veer Baal Diwas.
Each member of the delegation honoured Prime Minister Modi with 'Siropao' and 'Siri Sahib'.
PM Modi said people in many regions of the country are not aware of the contribution and sacrifice of Chaar Sahibzaade. He recalled that whenever he got an opportunity to speak in schools and in front of children, he always spoke about Chaar Sahibzaade.
The decision to observe December 26 as Veer Baal Diwas will go a long way in making children from different corners of the country aware of them, PM Modi said.
He thanked the leaders of the Sikh Community for visiting him, saying that the doors of his house were always open for them. He recalled his connection with them and the time spent together during the course of his stay in Punjab.
He also praised the spirit of service of the Sikh community, saying that the world needs to be made more aware of it. He said that his government was fully committed to the welfare of the Sikh community. He talked about several steps taken by the government in this regard.
He discussed the special arrangements that were made to bring back Guru Granth Sahib from Afghanistan with full honour while also talking about the steps taken by the government through diplomatic channels to open up the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for Sikh pilgrims.
In February last year, Prime Minister Modi met members of a Sikh-Hindu Delegation from Afghanistan at his 7 Lok Kalyan Marg residence. They honoured and thanked him for bringing Sikhs and Hindus safely to India from Afghanistan by virtue of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Prime Minister Modi welcomed the delegation saying that they are not guests but are in their own house, adding that India is their home. He talked about the immense difficulties faced by them in Afghanistan and the help provided by the government to bring them to India safely.
He also talked about the significance of the CAA and its benefits for the community while assuring them of his government's continuous support in future as well to resolve all issues and difficulties faced by them.
Prime Minister Modi also talked about the significance of the tradition of honouring Guru Granth Sahib, in light of which special arrangements were made to bring back Swaroop of Guru Granth Sahib from Afghanistan. He also brought up the immense love that he has received from Afghans over the years and fondly recalled his visit to Kabul.
Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who was also part of the delegation that met PM Modi, thanked him for sending help from India for bringing back the community safely, saying that when no one stood with them, Prime Minister Modi ensured constant support and timely help.
Other members of the delegation also thanked PM Modi for standing up for them in times of distress. They said that they had tears in their eyes when they heard him talking about making special arrangements to bring back the 'Swaroop' of Guru Granth Sahib from Afghanistan to India with proper reverence.
They also thanked him for bringing into force the CAA, which they said will be of immense help to the members of their community.
On Amritpal Singh, a pro-Khalistan leader and chief of 'Punjab Waris De' who made headlines following clashes with the police at Ajnala in Amritsar on February 23, Thekedar said he knows "nothing about Khalistan". He added that Singh will not succeed in his plans.
"Amritpal is not a Khalistani, he knows nothing about it. But he has certainly made a lot of money in the name of Khalistan. I don't think he will succeed in his plans going forward," the former pro-Khalistan leader said.
On Pakistan's intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, he said it does not use an asset for a lifetime and will pick another person as soon as it is determined that the previous person is no longer of any use.
"When he (Amritpal Singh) was in Dubai, he was clean-shaven. He is not a (traditional) Sikh. He does not know anything about Sikh history. I must add that several more like him will crop up in the coming years. Because the ISI doesn't run its assets for a lifetime. When they feel that a person is no longer of any use, they replace him with others who are in line," Thekedar said.
He added that Pakistan would not let a separate Khalistan be carved out as it is aware that the pro-Khalistanis have their eyes on Lahore next.
"Pakistan knows that if a country of Sikhs comes into being, they will target Lahore next. They will come to Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib. They won't let this happen. It is Pakistan, not India, which is the real enemy of Khalistan," he said.
The former pro-Khalistan leader cautioned the Punjab government of the Aam Aadmi Party against going soft on pro-Khalistan elements, saying that the regime under Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was, in effect, helping the revival of the Khalistan movement by not taking timely action.
"This Punjab government is not capable of dealing with this (threat of revival of the Khalistan movement). There is not a single person in the administration who handle this. I feel that by not taking timely action, they are only aiding the revival of the Khalistan movement," he said.
Suggesting that the Centre consider agreeing with the demands of the Khalistan leaders, he said it would stop the movement from growing further.
"Their demands for the release of Sikh political prisoners, and removal of Sikhs from Section 25B-2 could be met. It won't bring any harm to the country if the government were to meet these demands. If the government accedes to their demands, this movement could be nipped in the bud. Every issue has a political solution. The government can also consider putting together a committee comprising former Khalistan leaders. Through such moves, the government can bring the Khalistan movement to an end," he said. (ANI)