CHANDIGARH: While the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign by the BJP-led Government of India to commemorate 75 years of Indian Independence evoked mixed response in other parts of India, it could not make any impact in Punjab. It faced stiff resistance in this Sikh-dominated state instead.
Hoisting of the Indian national flag, called ‘Tiranga’(tricolour), was rarely witnessed especially in rural and semi-urban areas. The masses showed no interest and enthusiasm in hoisting the tricolour on top of their houses.
Even as the Union Government called for celebrating the 75th anniversary of the independence as ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, there was no excitement towards this celebration.
The 75th Independence Day was a normal day for almost all the Punjabis. They started routine life after dawn with nothing special. While other communities hardly showed any interest in this celebration and Har Ghar Tiranga campaign, Sikh community resisted it.
While a considerable section of the Sikhs opposed the forceful hoisting of the tricolour, another sizable Sikh section opted for unfurling ‘Nishan Sahib’ (Khalsa or Sikh flag).
Many Sikh organizations including Sangrur Member of Parliament (MP) Simranjit Singh Mann-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Waris Punjab De, Dal Khalsa, Sikh Youth Federation Bhindranwala, Alliance of Sikh Organizations run parallel campaign of hoisting Nishan Sahib and they got good response from a considerable Sikh section.
While Congress, BJP and Hindu fanatic organizations took out ‘tiranga’ processions in Punjab, these Sikh organizations took out “Khalsa Marches” in different towns and cities of Punjab in a moreimpressive way. These marches were also taken out in Jalandiala, Khemkaran,Tanda Urmar, Moga, Phagwara and other places of Punjab, which were participated by hundreds of youths.
Thanks to the influence of Nishan Sahib, some Congress leaders including Kamaljit Singh Brar and Ramanjit Singh Sikki kept the Sikh flags on first place in the tricolour processions taken out by Congress in Moga and Khadoor Sahib (Tarn Taran) respectively.
In many villages, many Sikh flags were seen hoisting on the top of the houses. However, the tricolour was nowhere to be seen. The Sikh flags remained in high demand for the Sikh youngsters.
The apex gurdwara body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) strongly condemned the hoisting of tricolour on Gurdwara Imli Sahib in Indore in Madhya Pradesh (MP) and lighting up of Minar-e-Fateh erected at Chappar Chiri in memory of Baba Banda Singh Bahadar’s victory with tricolour. Fumed over it, the Sikh activists removed the tricolour designing of the lighting.
It also took strong notice of government orders to hoist tricolour on the premises of two historic gurdwaras falling in Ambala district of Haryana. The Sikhs did not let the government do so.
Tales of partition of Punjab during 1947, that disintegrated and destroyed this state, formerly known as a sovereign country onworld map, also reached the masses this year.
After learning about this destruction, the young generation of Punjab realized the real story of the independence and its meaning for Punjab.
Meanwhile, Akal Takht Sahib acting jathedar announced to organize ardas (prayer) for 10 Lakh people killed during the partition violence. And this ardas is being held at the highest Sikh temporal seat on August 16. This is happening for the first time.