Obama Rightly Warned India On Religious Freedom, Say Sikh Bodies
AMRITSAR – The American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) welcomed US President Barack Obama’s statement on Article 25 of the Indian Constitution that gave freedom of faith and right to propagate one’s religion.
AGPC president JS Hothi and coordinator Pritpal Singh said Obama “rightly warned” India if this provision was not followed in true spirit and substance it would curtail the right to freedom of religion and might lead to splintered society on religious grounds.
AGPC leaders said, “We are extremely thankful to the President for raising the issue of religious freedom on the Indian soil. He is right in saying that India must concentrate on religious freedom, if it wants to stay united.”
They said India had not been following the Constitution in the true spirit and the minorities were under attack in the country. They alleged the Sikhs had been facing the “worst-ever discrimination and their voices were being subdued”.
They said the Sikh organisations had been raising the issue in the USA and it prompted the President to rake it up during his visit to India. They said the US President had always been supportive of the Sikh issues. He described how the US took action against the perpetrators of violence on the Sikhs in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack.
All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) president Karnail Singh Peermohammad also welcomed the US President Obama’s statement. He said the federation’s online “Sikhs are not Hindus” petition (having over 1.25 lakh signatures) and Obama’s assertion justified their plea.
Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said the US President rightly hinted towards the “growing religious intolerance” in India. “He has shown a mirror to India,” he said.
The SGPC on Wednesday expressed concern over a fresh study that suggested that the Americans knew very little about their Sikh compatriots. In a statement, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar said it was a serious issue. He said the gurdwara committee and other Sikh organisations in the US must take note of this study and initiate efforts to sensitise people there about Sikhism.