After the hijab controversy in the Indian state of Karnataka, another dispute erupted over the kirpan (sword or dagger) of Sikhs in the provincial assembly elections held in various parts of the country.
The minority Sikh community was barred from entering polling stations by police officers wearing kirpans.
In one such incident in the Jalalabad area of Indian Punjab, young Sikhs got into a fight with police when they were prevented from voting while wearing kirpans.
Police said they would not let anyone into the polling station with a ‘sword’, while young Sikhs felt the kirpan was part of their religious identity, like the turban, and they could not wear it. separate from their body.
Generally, Sikhs in India are allowed to visit any place in the country with Kirpan. “So why is the sword banned just for voting?” asked a disgruntled Sikh.
The minority community has expressed concern that if they cannot wear a kirpan in Indian Punjab, which is a majority Sikh state, then how they will be treated in other parts of the country.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Sikh organizations have also condemned the move saying that extremist Hindus in India want to crush all minorities.
Sikh community leader Sardar Gopal Singh Chawla said in a statement that Sikhs should not agree to such a ban and urged other minority communities, including Muslims and Christians, to unite to fight against the policies. extremists in the BJP-led Hindu National Government.
As the state of Punjab elects its provincial assembly today, Sikhs and Muslims say with one voice they are against the divisive politics being broadcast by politicians.
“These parties that spread hatred and divide people are not welcome here. In Punjab, Sikhs, Muslims or others, vote for secular parties,” Maulana Mohammad Usman Rehmani Ludhianvi, religious leader of Punjab, told the news agency. Anadolu.
“I believe that in Punjab, the relationship between Sikhs and Muslims is like an older brother and a younger brother. This will continue and we have often seen examples of communal harmony,” he said.
Unlike the populous state of Uttar Pradesh, India, where anti-Muslim rhetoric has found its way into the election campaign, Punjab stands out as an exception.
Experts say the growing relationship between Sikhs and Muslims has helped keep divisive forces out of power.
“Politicians try to invoke religion in elections, people don’t fall for it,” said Jaspal Kaur Kaang, a Chandigarh-based Sikh studies expert who attributed Punjab’s communal harmony to the secular characters of Sikhism. .
“The Sikh gurus gave the people a concept of communal harmony. Punjab is secular and has rejected the politics of division and hatred. They focused more on universal brotherhood,” she said.