Sikh bodies divided over Fateh Diwas celebrations Amritsar Divisions within the Sikh community have once again come to the fore, as they are all set to celebrate the tercentenary commemorating Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s Sirhind-Fateh Diwas at Sirhind from May 12-14. The state government and Badal-controlled Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee are flexing muscles to make the event “historic”, while various Sikh bodies, including the Sarna group and Opposition Congress, have vowed to stay away from the celebrations. The anti-Badal Akali factions and Congress have termed the celebrations mere gimmicks to gain political mileage. The SGPC, however, is of the view that all Sikhs should participate in the function that marks 300 years of Sikh warriors defeating the then Mughal rulers of Sirhind state, following the demise of Guru Gobind Singh in Maharashtra in 1707. Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee Chief Paramjit Singh Sarna and his brother Harvinder Singh Sarna have already courted controversies for not taking part in the Fateh March that passed through Delhi last week on its way to Punjab from Maharshtra. Sikhs in large number had gathered all through its routes through Madhya Pradesh, UP, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab, while Sarna had termed the march a total failure. Though nearly all Sikhs revere Banda Bahadur, who established Sikh Raj and took revenge for the killings of Guru Gobind Singh and his family members, including his two young sons, political overtones to the celebrations are playing a spoilsport. Anti-Badal Sikh bodies feel Badal should have taken all into confidence before arranging the event. A mega function is on the anvil, where senior NDA leaders, including BJP top brass such as L K Advani and Nitin Gadkari, are expected to arrive along with chief ministers of various states. Exhibition of Sikh artefacts, relics of the Gurus, Sikh congregations, religious prayers, mega martial art exhibition and seminars on Sikh history and culture will mark the occasion. “This is an opportunity for Sikhs to remember those great heroes who fought with valour to protect the religion with an unconquerable spirit,” said SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar. Though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was first reported to be willing to take part in the celebrations, security concerns and his other engagements forced him to postpone the visit. “We cannot force anyone to join us. The Congress is staying away and so are the Sarna brothers, but we are not bothered. It is a religious programme and they should take part in it. But Sarna is an agent of the Congress, so he will do what his political bosses direct him to do,” says Makkar. He also said elephants, horses and great display of Sikh martial art Gatka will welcome the Fateh March arriving at Sirhind on May 12. “A national seminar on the life and philosophy of the great warrior, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, are already over,” he said, adding the SGPC will issue commemorative gold and silver coins to mark the occasion and a series of light and sound programmes will also be organised at various district headquarters to apprise people about the sacrifice of Baba to establish Sikh Raj. Apart from this, a religious procession from Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir, the birth place of Baba Bahadur, and village Gurdas Nangal in Gurdaspur, from where Baba was arrested, will reach at Sirhind. Dal Khalsa, a radical Sikh body, today said they will take out a Khalsa Raj Parade from Chaparchiri to Sirhind on May 12. In a statement, party spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh said the march will start from Chaparchiri, the place where Baba defeated and killed the Governor of Sirhind. “The march will conclude at Sirhind, where Baba unfurled the Saffron Nishan Sahib and established the first rule of Sikhs,” he said.