The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today asked Tourism minister Navjot Sidhu to quit his post immediately if he could not protect the rich heritage and culture of the State, even as it asserted Sidhu was deliberately denigrating Sikh monuments by cutting off money supply for even their maintenance solely because they had come up during SAD-BJP tenure.In a statement here, former minister and SAD spokesman Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said it was shocking that Navjot Sidhu had refused to pay maintenance charges for upkeep of the Vadda Ghallughara monument at Kup- Rohira in Sangrur which commemorates the massacre of 35,000 Sikhs by Ahmed Shah Abadali’s army in 1762. “By indulging in this shameful act Sidhu has not only insulted the memory of the martyrs who paid the ultimate sacrifice to safeguard Sikhism, but has also shown the true colours of the Congress party to the people of Punjab”.The Akali spokesman said Navjot Sidhu had articulated the Congress government’s policy of willful neglect and even insult and attack on Sikh shrines and culture by stating immediately after taking over his ministry that the Virasat-e-Khalsa was a white elephant. “Sidhu, who is supposed to be Punjab’s brand ambassador as Tourism minister, disparaged a monument which has become an icon of Sikh religion and culture the world over.
Even though Sidhu’s thought process, which does not allow him to think beyond comedy circuses, was condemned by the Punjabi diaspora, he did not learn any lesson.Dr Cheema said Sidhu went on to systematically discriminate against all religio-cultural projects completed by the SAD-BJP government. “The heritage street in Amritsar which leads to Sri Darbar Sahab is decaying due to lack of proper maintenance ever since Sidhu become minister and took over the reins of the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board”.Asking Sidhu to understand that he also had the responsibility of safeguarding the rich cultural heritage of the State, the Akali leader said all monuments which had come up during the SAD-BJP tenure be it Virasat-e-Khalsa at Anandpur Sahab, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur memorial at Chappar Chhiri, Vadda and Chhota Ghallughara memorials, War memorial at Amritsar and the Jang-e-Azadi memorial at Kartarpur were testament to the rich religious-cultural tradition as well as saga of bravery of Punjabis. “If you cannot appreciate the significance of these monuments which were conceptualized and executed by Sardar Parkash Singh Badal to instill pride about our glorious heritage in our coming generations, it is better you resign your post and migrate back to Mumbai to indulge in tom-foolery in comedy shows”, Dr Cheema added. EOM