PM Modi Meets Sikh leaders. Photo: twitter/narendramodi
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a number of prominent Sikhs at his residence on Friday and highlighted the works done by his government for the community.
Praising the spirit of service of the Sikh community, Modi said that the world needs to be made more aware about it and asserted that his government is fully committed to their welfare, according to a PMO statement.
The meeting came two days before the Punjab Assembly polls, with the BJP going all out to woo the Sikh community as it seeks to put up a strong show in an alliance with former chief minister Amarinder Singh's Punjab Lok Congress and the Akali Dal faction headed by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.
BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa, who was present in the meeting, told PTI that Modi in the interaction said he wants to work for the community everyday and regretted that the previous Congress dispensations lost opportunities to bring Sikhs' holy places like Kartarpur Sahib, which is in Pakistan, into Indian territory.
At a press conference, Sirsa quoted Modi as saying that India could have got the territory after 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan if efforts were made.
Modi has often criticised the Congress for not taking measures to ensure that the Kartarpur Sahib did not fall in Pakistan when India was divided in 1947.
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said Modi noted his government's decision to commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh's sons and said people in many regions of the country do not know about their contribution and sacrifice.
He recalled that whenever he used to get an opportunity to speak in schools and in front of children, he always highlighted the martyrdom.
The decision to commemorate December 26 as Veer Baal Diwas will go a long way in making kids from all corners of the country aware about them, Modi said.
"The prime minister thanked the leaders of the Sikh community for visiting him and said that the doors of his house are always open for them. He recalled his connection with them and time spent together during the course of his stay in Punjab," the PMO said.
Modi noted the special arrangements that were made to bring back Guru Granth Sahib from Afghanistan with full honour and also referred to the steps taken by the government through diplomatic channels to open up the Kartarpur Sahib corridor for Sikh pilgrims.
Later in tweets, Modi said these Sikh religious and community leaders are at the forefront of popularising Sikh culture and serving society.
He said, "I was humbled by the kind words from the distinguished members of the Sikh community on various efforts of the Central Government. I consider it my honour that the respected Sikh Gurus have taken Seva from me and their blessings have enabled me to work for society."
Sirsa said Sikhs have carried a certain pain because many commitments made to them earlier were not fulfilled but the Modi government has done "historic" works, including opening the corridor to Kartarpur Sahib and taking the decision to commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh's sons.
The Sikh personalities who attended the meeting with Modi included Delhi Gurudwara Committee president Harmeet Singh Kalka, Padma Sri-awardee Baba Balbir Singh Sichewal, Mahant Karamjit Singh of Sewapanthi in Yamuna Nagar, Baba Joga Singh of Dera Baba Jang Singh in Karnal and Sant Baba Mejor Singh Waa of Mukhi Dera Baba Tara Singh Waa in Amritsar, officials said.
Jathedar Baba Sahib Singh of Kar Sewa in Anandpur Sahib, Surinder Singh Namdhari Darbar of Bheni Sahib, Baba Jassa Singh of Shiromani Akali Budha Dal, Harbhajan Singh of Damdami Taksal and Giani Ranjit Singh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Patna Sahib also attended the meeting, they said.
The delegation thanked Modi for taking steps for the welfare of the community, and each member honoured him with ‘Siropa' and ‘Siri Sahib'.
Following the meeting with the prime minister, they lauded his work for the community.
Karamjit Singh quoted Modi as saying that "Sikhi" (attributes associated with Sikhs) and service, another quality identified with the community, is in his blood. This touched our hearts, he said, lauding various initiatives of the government for the community, including removal of GST on langars run by gurdwaras.
Kalka referred to the SIT constituted by the government to act against those involved in anti-Sikh riots in 1984 and praised Modi.
Tarlochan Singh, former National Minority Commission chairman, said this is the first time since independence that the contribution of the Sikh community, who had sacrificed their lives in huge numbers during partition, is being recognised, the PMO statement said.
The prime minister also posted a picture of his meeting with Uday Singh, the spiritual leader of Namdhari sect.