In wake of Akali Dal, perhaps the only minority community related political outfit still in alliance with NDA/BJP/RSS, remaining silent on an issue that threatens to destroy our nations’ delicate Phulkaric weave, I am returning the Parman Patra conferred by the Punjab Government upon me in 2011.
It is my two pence but hopefully a meaningful droplet as an expression of my solidarity with the families directly or indirectly affected by these crimes against humanity and the rights of people to practice their chosen faith with dignity and respect.
We the protagonists from the fields of music, arts, literature, sciences, and so on are the expressionists and I feel it is time to express our anguish at this horrible state of affairs that plagues our nation –this society.
Open letter to Punjab Administration by Bhai Baldeep Singh
Shri Sarvesh Kaushal
Chief Secretary, Punjab
Monday, October 12, 2015
Subject: The Return of the Parman Patra Award
In the wake of the lack of appropriate response to warn off those who have been perpetrating crimes against humanity aimed at Christianity, Islam as well as the gory murder of several among India’s leading rationalists, I have decided to return my Parman Patra (2011) conferred upon me by the Honourable Chief Minister of Punjab, Sardar Parkash Singh Badal, for contribution to Classical music and Gurbani Sangeet.
On September 30, I had already issued the following videoed response urging the nation’s intelligentsia from all religious and social backgrounds or denominations to come forward and raise their voice:
Along with, the following caption was posted:
—”On September 30, 2015, in broad daylight, Mohammad Akhlaq was brutally murdered and his son critically injured by a mob just because it was rumoured that cow-meat was to be cooked at his humble residence. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends!
—In 1947, we were ridiculous enough to senselessly partition our country but we forgot to be wise while celebrating our stupidity. It is time to make amends. Then, we had divided our armed forces, military paraphernalia, universities and books, cities and people, and attempted to monopolise religious and cultural beliefs. I think it is now time to proportionately split our cattle —pigs, cows, buffalos, chicken, hen, birds, cats, mosquitoes, flies, other domestic animals and even wild life. Let there be Hindoo cows that can be worshipped; let us have Sikh, Muslim, Jew, Tribal and Christian cows that can be slaughtered, cooked and eaten; let us have pigs that can be eaten as well as pigs that are ordained with a certain religious pardon!
—Sikhs have made supreme sacrifices generation after generation to save the Tilak, Janeo, Jhatka and so on. And now, if it comes to that Sikhs will raise their voice and even sacrifice, if it comes to that, to save the right offer Namaz; to practice the gift of Islam; even to eat beef; to go to Church; and so on. I know that elders from across communities will raise their voices of concern in urging caution to the current regime.
—We need to refrain from politicising religion, ecology and any of our natural resources!” (End quote).
As Shiromani Akali Dal claims to be the sole representative of Sikh political thought, aspirations and the bearer of Sikh voice – which constitutionally is counted as a minority one – I would have expected the SAD to raise its voice and concern in the wake of the current situation in the country. It is time we stand up to tell – loud and clear – that this nation is not any one community’s personal akhada or ring —that this nation is a consortium of almost all of world’s major religions and sects, from a religious perspective; the idea of this nation is nothing short of a joint venture and that we, the people of this country will not allow this idea or this nations core values, even identity, to be hijacked by anyone.
When will the Shiromani Akali Dal wake up? When the Sikhs will be targeted yet again? I want to tell the Chief Minister of Punjab as well the President of Shiromani Akali Dal, who happens to be the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab as well, that we the Sikhs have made supreme sacrifices to save the religious and social rights of the majority community of this country – the Tilak, Janeoo, Jhatkaa, the right to offer Pooja, and so on. It is now time to help protect the religious and social rights of the minority communities of this country! This could actually mean SAD sacrificing its grip on power but then so be it. What is more valuable – to rule over a debt ridden state for a few terms and then be forgotten or rule over the hearts and minds of the people of this world and to be remembered for times to come?
As the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has not taken a clear stand against the crimes perpetrated against the minority communities that would have been worthy of the history of Punjab – but in particular that of the Sikh nation – that the SAD claims to represent, I am left with no other choice but to politely return the Parman Patra award it had conferred upon me a few years ago. The reason I have decided to return the Parman Patra – Certificate of Merit – is because the current Punjab Government is actually an Akali Dal – BJP regime, that is, both are NDA affiliates that also governs the central government. I am urging likeminded recipients of State and national awards where the NDA partners are in governance, to humbly return their awards in solidarity. States build the nation – the people who accept and celebrate diversity are the ones who sustain it. Right now we need to save our nation – this is a matter of internal security and we all need to show up and be counted!
Please note that in spite of the illegal, unlawful and forcible occupation of Anad Conservatory premises inside Qila Sarai at Sulranpur Lodhi, and such callous attitude from the government, I did not think of returning the state honours. That is an intra-Punjab and even perhaps personal a matter and I know how to deal with. I will not allow disgraceful people either from civil or police administration or from the political field to sabotage Punjab’s attempts to regain its lost socio-cultural, artistic and political glory. But the Akali Dal silence on a matter that threatens the very fabric of our nation is deafening and this is non-negotiable. I demand that Akali Dal severe its ties with BJP and RSS immediately or issue a strong statement censuring the anti-minority rights fanatics as well as the political fronts such as RSS, Shiv Sena and BJP for quietly endorsing such dastardly incidents.
My work as a custodian and bearer of Punjab’s cultural traditions continues unabated!
Bhai Baldeep Singh
Chairman, Anad Foundation
Founder, Anad Khand: Conservatory of Arts, Aesthetics, Cultural Traditions and Developmental Studies
1) Sardar Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab
2) Sardar Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, and President, Shiromani Akali Dal