Accepting the invitation given by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and the Sikh sangat, a 13-member Sikh jatha entered into Pakistan on Wednesday to take part in a function to observe the anniversary of the Nankana Sahib massacre on February 21.
The jatha was led by Giani Harpreet Singh, the acting jathedar of Akal Takht.
“On February 21, 1921, Sikhs were martyred in the struggle to liberate the gurdwara at Nankana Sahib. Their martyrdom anniversary is being commemorated by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and the Sikh sangat (community). I’m leaving for Pakistan with 12 others to attend the function. Some members of the community will also come (to Pakistan) from Delhi on Thursday,” Giani Harpreet Singh told reporters before leaving for the Attari-Wagah border.
The PSGPC and Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) have invited the jathedar for the function to mark the massacre, also called Saka Nankana Sahib, that took place at Gurdwara Janam Asthan, the birthplace of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak, in 1921, during the British rule.
Under the Gurdwara Reform Movement, more than 260 Sikh protesters were killed by the British-backed mahant (religious leader) and his mercenaries.
Besides taking part in the function, the jathedar will pay obeisance at gurdwaras in Pakistan.
Giani Harpreet Singh’s visit comes in the backdrop of his recent statement expressing concern over “a sense of fear and insecurity among minorities in the country (India).” He said this while supporting Muslim groups protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.
Delhi Minority Commission chief Zafarul Islam Khan, who called on Giani Harpreet Singh last week, said that the Akal Takht chief had assured Muslims of support, saying Sikhs always stood for the oppressed and would continue to do so.