Taking strong exception to the Akal Dal leadership’s attempts to mislead the people on a sensitive religious issue, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said the decision to bar distribution of prasad at the religious places that opened today was that of the Central Government, of which the SAD was an integral part.His government had never believed in interfering with the customs and practices of any religion, but was constrained by the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, said Captain Amarinder, flaying the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders for trying to incite the people against the state government through deceptive statements.How could the state government be held responsible for prohibiting prasad distribution at gurdwaras or other places of worship when the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued the SOPs to be followed by religious places, under the directives of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, asked the Chief Minister. It was the MHA that had taken the decision, under the National Disaster Act, to allow opening of religious and some other places from June 8, and had subsequently asked the various other central ministries to issue the necessary guidelines for the same, he pointed out.
As a union minister, SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal and her party must surely have been consulted before the issuance of the SOPs on the reopening of religious places with effect from June 8, quipped Captain Amarinder. Harsimrat should have put her foot down then, and insisted on allowing distribution of prasad, instead of protesting later and wrongly putting the blame on the state government, he added.In fact, said the Chief Minister, he had already directed the state’s Additional Chief Secretary Home to issue instructions for distribution of langar in conformity with the guidelines issued by the Government of India at the gurdwaras. He himself would be writing to the Prime Minister to allow distribution of Prasad in religious places, he added.The Chief Minister lashed out at the brazen double standards of the Akalis, who were in the habit of supporting controversial decisions of the Government of India in the corridors of New Delhi while making the pretension of opposing the same in public. From the CAA legislation to the more recent Ordinance on Agricultural Reforms, the Akali leaders, particularly Harsimrat, had been repeatedly trying to fool the people of Punjab with their blatant lies on critical issues of interest to the state, he added.Captain Amarinder once again urged the Akali leader to stop playing petty politics in these exigent times, which required collective efforts by all, across political dispensations, to battle the crisis.