​Akal Takht Jathedar’s Call to Sikh Youth to Keep Licensed Weapons Triggers Row in Punjab

The Akal Takht Jathedar’s call to Sikh youths to arm themselves with licensed weapons for protection has triggered a controversy, with the Congress claiming it shows the law and order situation in Punjab and chief minister Bhagwant Mann questioning it.

Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, in his message on the occasion Gurgadi Divas (enthronement day) of Guru Hargobind Sahib, urged Sikh youths to apply for licence for modern weapons for self-defence.

In his message to the youths, he said this was the need of the hour. He urged the youth, saying that even the Guru had used weapons for self-defence.

The statement has not gone down well with all parties.

Aam Aadmi Party leader and CM Mann tweeted: “Honorable Jathedar Sri Akal Takhat Sahib Ji, listen to your statement about weapons. Messaging is not about modern weapons.”

Former deputy Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said it must be made clear why such a message was issued. “What is so alarming about the law and order situation in Punjab that the youths are being asked to seek licence for arms,” said Randhawa.

He said that as per Sikhism, keeping a kirpan for self-defence was mandatory as per the teachings of the Guru, but why licensed weapons.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Harjeet Grewal targeted Giani, saying such a statement was issued to ensure the safety of his own seat and keeping Akalis relevant. He said there was no provocation to make such a statement and his message could be used to disrupt peace in the state.

However, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Daljit Singh Cheema defended the statement. He said that keeping weapons (kirpan) has been part of the religion and given the violence, some people are even keeping private security for their own safety, so there was no harm if people kept licensed weapons. Cheema, however, said that there should be a background check of those who were getting the licences.

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