AMRITSAR: Expressing concern over what he called the number of new “churches and mosques” popping up in Punjab‘s border villages, the Akal Takht‘s officiating jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh exhorted Sikhs on the 38th anniversary of Operation Bluestar on Monday to build akharas and “shooting ranges”, and learn martial arts and traditional weaponry to protect their faith.
The ceremony at the Golden Temple in Amritsar was marked by heavy security deployment, with a large number of police personnel milling about in the complex. Still, a handful of hardliners were seen carrying banners and placards with photos of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as well as ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ written on them.
Jathedar Singh asked gurdwara management committees and Sikh institutions to set up Gatka academies or Gatka akharas in gurdwara complexes on the lines of Mal Akharas set up by Guru Angad Dev at Khadoor Sahib. “There is nothing wrong in even setting up modern shooting ranges,” he said.
However, he later alleged that his remarks on shooting ranges was misinterpreted. “After practicing in shooting ranges, students qualify for tournaments and win gold medals in shooting,” he said.
He said as “churches and mosques have come up in every second village” of Punjab’s border, Sikh preachers should visit these areas to promote Sikhism and apprise the youth about the rich Sikh tenets and history.
He encouraged youths to stay away from drugs, get educated to become like Jewish economists and rule the world’s economy. “If our children rule the world’s economies, no one can stop us from establishing our rule,” he said.
The jathedar of Akal Takht, the highest seat of Sikhism, rapped Russia for reportedly supporting Operation Bluestar. “Look at Russia now… fighting one of the tiniest countries (Ukraine). Unless they bow before the Guru, no one can save them from disintegrating,” he said. He attacked the policies of successive governments for “suppressing Sikhs to make them a religiously, politically and socially weak community”.

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