Christian missionaries running forced conversion campaigns in border areas of Punjab Akal Takht Jathedar said – SGPC will fight hard Akal Takht Jathedar said
His remarks came on a day when Dalit and Sikh organizations in Amritsar celebrated the 101st anniversary of the restoration of Dalit Sikhs’ right to free entry into the Golden Temple and Akal Takht and the presentation of ‘Karah Prasad’. That event on 12 October 1920 is believed to have played a key role in the formation of the SGPC.
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh said on Tuesday that Christian missionaries in the border areas of Punjab “forced conversion running a campaign for The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has started uniting everyone to combat this.
Akal Takht Jathedar, the head priest of the highest seat of the Sikh community, said in a statement, “Christian missionaries have been running a campaign for forced conversions in the border areas for the past few years. Innocent people are being duped or are being lured to convert. We have received many such reports.”
Giani Harpreet Singh belongs to the Dalit Sikh community. His remarks came on a day when Dalit and Sikh organizations in Amritsar Golden temple and the 101st anniversary of the restoration of the right of free entry for Dalit Sikhs to the Akal Takht and the introduction of ‘Karah Prasad’. That event on 12 October 1920 is believed to have played a key role in the formation of the SGPC.
He said, “Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee has started a campaign called ‘Ghar Ghar Inside Dharamshala’ to combat forced conversions, which is a dangerous attack on Sikhism.” As part of the campaign, Sikh preachers have been visiting villages to distribute literature on their religion.
The Jathedar said, “Religion is a matter of spirituality. Forced conversion or coercion can never be justified. All Sikhs should support SGPC in strengthening the campaign against forced conversion. This is a very serious challenge for us. We have to fight it. SGPC The campaign should be launched all over India. Right now we are focusing on those areas which are more affected.”
Responding to the Jathedar’s statement, Dr. Kashmir Singh, who lives in Amritsar and heads the Dalit and minority organization Punjab, said: “There are many reasons behind such conversions. One reason is that Dalits face a lot of discrimination in villages. There is also illiteracy and poverty among Dalits, which makes them easy targets. They are told that conversion will help them settle abroad.
He said, “Missionaries go to their homes to convince the Dalits. There is no such effort on the part of SGPC. We need SGPC pracharaks and more Dalit representation in SGPC and its institutions to stop such conversions.”
Singh said that though the current Akal Takht Jathedar is a Dalit Sikh, “much still remains to be done to ensure equal rights”. He called upon the Dalit Sikhs to be recruited to key positions in the SGPC, to issue strict orders from the Akal Takht against any discrimination and to provide free education in all educational and vocational institutions under the SGPC.
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