US Sikh Leaders condemn Kotkapura incidents
Washington, DC October 15, 2015: US Sikh leaders have condemned the recent Police action in Kotkapura which led to 2 deaths and several dozens injured seriously. Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education and Inderpaul Singh Gadh, Chairman of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation laid the blame squarely on the Punjab Government of Parkash Singh Badal for mishandling of a very sensitive religious issue. They also appealed to Sikhs to keep the protests peaceful at all costs.
Dr. Rajwant Singh said, “It shows the failure of Punjab administration in not acting promptly when a copy of Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scriptures were stolen by some miscreants three months ago and also when the desecration of the Sikh scriptures was discovered a few days ago. For two to three days, there was total absence by any responsible representative to make any move or a statement to assuage the feelings or the sentiments of the peaceful protestors.”
Dr. Singh added, “They allowed the use of brutal force to disperse the protestors who were peacefully expressing their outrage at the desecration of the Sikh scriptures and asking for administrative action to find out the perpetrators of this crime. How is that a problem? People have the right to protest and there should have been more restraint by the police apparatus to let people gather and ask for official action. Many people are astounded by police inaction when supporters of Dera Sirsa stopped the train and road traffic protesting for the movie a few days ago and why the police came into full force to disperse these peaceful protests in Kotkapura when they were not blocking main traffic point in the state. Announcing the award of 1 crore ( $100,000) after the statewide protests and after 3 months of the original crime sounds totally disingenuous.”
He added, “Why did police use such harsh measures of water cannons and firing at people to disperse the peaceful crowd. Beating protestors with severity is totally unacceptable. There are several videos of police beating people and unconscious individuals, damaging cars and vehicles have surfaced. This is totally condemnable and blame lies totally at the Punjab government’s footsteps. We also appeal to all speakers and preachers to calm the public and channel the energy positively. We all should perform an act of sewa in the name of Guru Granth Sahib. Do not allow anyone to exploit the sentiments.”
Inderpaul Singh Gadh, Chairman of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, said, “The government cannot blame the violent protest as the cause of this disturbance. There was no apparent violence and it is being reported wrongly in the media. It is only police which used ruthless force which led to people burning vehicles in outrage. People were under restraint led by several respectable and famous Sikh preachers. This was not a protest by people with questionable motives. In fact they represented the sentiments of the Sikhs worldwide. Government of Punjab must reign in this kind of irresponsible action by the security forces and no loss of life should take place in any police action.”
Dr. Singh added, “The recent developments of hurried pardoning of Dera Sirsa chief shows poor judgement by the Sikh political and religious leadership. The overwhelming perception it has created that this all is being done under political considerations rather then what is right. There is lot of resentment in the Sikh masses and the Sikh institutions like Akal Takhat and SGPC stand discredited. This kind of political machinations must cease and desist. Akali political activity cannot envelope and engulf Sikh community’s and Sikh religion’s standing in the world. There is a critical need to restore the confidence of Sikh people and any future planning or action be done by people with religious bent of mind and persons who are not involved in any political party or any political agenda. That is the only course of action.”