Exclusion of Sikh squad in R-Day triggers row

Akali Dal terms move 'sad and regrettable'

Exclusion of Sikh squad  in R-Day  triggers row
The exclusion of the contingent of the Sikh Regiment in the Republic Day parade is courting controversy with the Akali Dal, an ally of the BJP-led NDA, describing it as “sad and regrettable.”

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal wasted no time in writing a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighting what he described as a widespread feeling of hurt and resentment that has been caused by the non inclusion of the Sikh Regiment in the Republic Day parade. French President François Hollande was the chief guest on the occasion.

Badal said the exclusion of the Sikh regiment from the parade would be regrettable at any time but it was magnified this year because of the presence of the French president as a special guest at the event. Badal said, “The Sikhs have been facing several practices in France which amount to the denial of  freedom to observe the fundamental religious practices to the community, including a ban on the wearing of turbans — one of the five symbols of their religion”. He said that this would have been an appropriate occasion to demonstrate to the French dignitary the place of the Sikh community in India’s rich cultural identity and its contribution to the cause of freedom.

Badal said the event is always regarded as a great occasion to showcase India’s multi-cultural  and multi-religious identity, highlighting its secular ethos. “As a vibrant and fiercely patriotic minority community in the country, the Sikhs are always seen as the most powerful symbol of this multi-dimensional identity and secular character of the country,” Badal wrote.

He said the Sikh community has a strong presence in the armed forces and their patriotic and  martial traditions are something on which the entire country rightly takes pride. Because of this, Badal said, the presence of the Sikh regiment in the parade needs to be regarded as a natural part of our nationalistic symbolism. The chief minister appealed to Modi to have the issue looked into. “Necessary instructions needs to be issued to ensure that in future the Sikh Regiment is always included in the Republic Day parade”, the chief minister wrote.
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