Giani Harpreet Singh, chief of Akal Takht, the highest temporal body of the Sikhs on Friday condemned the violence during the farmers' tractor parade on Republic Day but added that it was "not a crime" to hoist Nishan Sahib on a vacant flag post at the Red Fort.
"Violence by farmers or police at Red Fort can’t be justified. But the controversy over hoisting Nishan Sahib over vacant flag pole at Red Fort is a non-issue,” the Jathedar said in a statement. He also advised the leaders of the farmers' agitation to continue to talk with the government and asked them to take a few steps backwards if needed. "The solution lies in the talks," he said.
He said that the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee organises Fateh March every year to Red Fort with Nishan Sahib. "Nishan Sahib is hoisted at Galwan Valley. Nishan Sahib was part of Republic Day Parade this year. It is not right to criticise Nishan Sahib by calling it the flag of Khalistan," he said.
On the Republic Day violence, the Akal Takht head said that "it has been seen quite often that when crowds are agitating, the real miscreants who create trouble are generally let off and innocents arrested for nothing." He said that it is the responsibility of the leaders at the forefront to maintain the sanctity of the protest and asked them not to indulge in a blame game.
Delhi witnessed violence during the farmers' tractor rally on January 26 to highlight their demand for the repeal of the Centre's three farm laws. Many of the protesters, driving tractors, reached the Red Fort and entered the monument. Some protesters even hoisted religious flags on its domes and the flagstaff at the ramparts, where the national flag is unfurled by the Prime Minister on Independence Day.
The Delhi Police has urged people to share any evidence or information about Republic Day violence. The Delhi Police on Wednesday said that 25 criminal cases were registered in connection with the violence in which 394 personnel were injured and 30 police vehicles damaged.
(With agency inputs)