Anandpur Sahib (Punjab): Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday praised the Khalsa Panth, the Sikh community, for promoting secularism and the cultural heritage of the country.
Addressing a gathering at the conclusion of the three-day celebrations of the 350th anniversary of the foundation of this historic Punjab town, he said the Sikhs and the Khalsa Panth played a great role not only in defending India but also promoting secularism and cultural heritage.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was due to come here to pay homage but could not do so because of his meeting with visiting Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.
Rajnath Singh said the Sikh gurus made sacrifices fighting against injustice and for the welfare of the entire society. "The country cannot forget the supreme sacrifices made by the Sikh gurus and the Sikh community."
Describing Punjab as the land of freedom fighters and martyrs, Rajnath Singh said: "We have to rise above the petty politics of communalism."
BJP national president Amit Shah was among the prominent personalities present on the occasion.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje did not attend the celebrations, citing health reasons.
On this occasion, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was the only party in the country which was a staunch votary of 'unite and rule' by dispelling the image of political outfits so far which believed in the policy of 'divide and rule'.
Seeking expeditious trials, justice and relief to the victims of the Sikh carnage in 1984, Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal said for 30 years Sikhs had been waiting for justice.
He appealed to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government to ensure justice for Sikhs as well as Punjab. He also sought that the legitimate issues pertaining to Punjab should be resolved at the earliest with due consultation with all stakeholders.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar offered his support to the Punjab chief minister in resolving common issues so that people of both the states could be benefited.
"There are some common issues between both the neighbouring states which need to be addressed for the benefit of people. This will strengthen brotherhood and accelerate the pace of development of both the states," he said.
Khattar said the Sikhs had a history of making supreme sacrifices for the country.
Union Food Processing minister Harsimrat Kaur, union minister of state for social justice Vijay Sampla, Chhattisgarh Governor Balramji Dass Tandon and yoga guru Ramdev were also present on the occasion.
The foundation of Anandpur Sahib was laid by the 9th Sikh guru Tegh Bahadur on June 19, 1665.
Anandpur Sahib, 85 km from Chandigarh, is home to the second most important Sikh shrine, Takht Keshgarh Sahib, after the Harmandar Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple) in Amritsar.