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CHANDIGARH

A first, SGPC hits out at Punjab govt over Covid curbs for Hola Mohalla

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Days after Ropar district administration decided to implement strict guidelines for those attending the six-day Hola Mohalla festival, which begins from March 24 at Kiratpur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib, SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur hit out at Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh saying if his government wanted to stop the sangat, “it should announce so”.

“It is unfortunate that Ropar deputy commissioner has made it mandatory for the sangat arriving at Hola Mohalla to get their Covid-19 test done 72 hours prior to arrival. This is a coercive measure by the government. It is a clumsy ploy to stop millions of devotees from coming to pay their respects to Guru Sahib. It is not possible for such a large number of sangat to be tested 72 hours in advance,” said Bibi Jagir Kaur.

“If the Punjab CM and Congress government wanted to stop the sangat, it should announce so. It is not justifiable to make the administration its front. It is the right of the sangat to pay homage and the government should not take such decisions,” she said, demanding that the decision be reversed.

This is the first time since Covid-19 outbreak that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committeehas objected to such restrictions. Last year, the SGPC had announced to follow all the Covid-19 protocols announced by the government. The Akal Takht Jathedar too had asked the Sikh community to celebrate festivals at home.

Earlier, Ropar Deputy Commissioner Sonali Giri had said that all visitors to the Hola Mohall will be screened at entry points and it will be ensured that everyone wore a face mask all the time. She had said that RT-PCR test would be mandatory for those who put up at hotels, serais and tent city during the festival and had added mobile testing teams would be deployed for the purpose.

The remarks by Bibi Jagir Kaur came while addressing a ‘grand Gurmat Samagam’ at Gurdwara Sahib Patshahi Nauvin Baba Bakala Sahib in Amritsar. While the district administration, following a surge in Covid cases, has tightened the curbs on indoor and outdoor gatherings in Amritsar, the SGPC function was attended by thousands against the cap of 200.

One of the worst affected district, Amritsar reported 230 new cases Thursday. The SGPC chief’s statement has come two days after her party, Shiromani Akali Dal, cancelled its upcoming political rallies after its president Sukhbir Singh Badal tested positive for Covid-19.

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