Chandigarh, May 16 (IANS): Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday underscored the need to propagate the ideology of the ninth Sikh master, Guru Tegh Bahadur, around the world to promote the values of peace, harmony, secularism and coexistence, which Guru Sahib upheld through his supreme sacrifice.
Taking part in the deliberations during a webinar organised by the K.S. Raju Legal Trust on Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur -- the Epitome of Resistance against Genocide and Conversion of Hindus and Sikhs under Islamic Rule in India, the Chief Minister said the secular character enshrined in the Constitution of the country was a shining example of 'unity in diversity' -- a deep-rooted philosophy of 'Hind Di Chadar' Guru Tegh Bahadur.
"Guru Sahib preached the concept of 'Sarbat Da Bhala' to create a harmonious society, where people, regardless of colour, caste, creed, race and religion, can live together in peace and harmony," he said.
Singh said he was blessed to have been personally associated with the celebration of several momentous occasions related to Sikh history, including the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib at Sri Harmandir Sahib in 2004, followed by the 350th Prakash Purb of Guru Gobind Singh, the 350th birth anniversary of legendary Sikh warrior Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, the 550th Prakash Purb of Guru Nanak Dev and now the 400th Prakash Purb of Guru Tegh Bahadur during his present term as Chief Minister.
Noting that while the government had released a commemorative postage stamp on Guru Tegh Bahadur's birth Anniversary, the Chief Minister said the state had sent a detailed memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a grant of Rs 938.37 crore for infrastructural projects as a part of the historic celebrations.
The Chief Minister spoke about the various events planned by his government to commemorate the 400th Prakash Purb of Guru Tegh Bahadur, which had to be shifted to virtual mode to the Covid pandemic.
Further, his government had initiated several infrastructural and development projects, including the conservation and development of Old Jail at Bassi Pathana where the ninth Guru, along with his supporters, was imprisoned by Noor Mohammad Khan Mirza for 40 days while he was reportedly on his way to meet Emperor Aurangzeb, he added.
The Chief Minister also cited projects for the upgradation of Baba Bakala panchayat to nagar panchayat, and the upcoming Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur State University of Law in Tarn Taran district.
The 103 Charan Chhoh places, including 79 villages and 24 towns, connected with Guru Sahib had been identified and given development grants of Rs 50 lakh each and Rs 1 crore per town for infrastructure development, said the Chief Minister.
Also, more than 60 lakh saplings have been planted in 6,986 villages so far, as part of the ongoing celebrations.
Speaking on the occasion, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravishankar said the unique sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur practically demonstrated that 'one should never forsake those who had come to you seeking shelter even if that means sacrificing your life'.
He lauded the Sikh community, which is known the world over for helping the people in distress or adversity with a sense of commitment, by arranging free community kitchen and now bailing out the people amid the Covid crisis by providing free oxygen service and other medical assistance.
In his presidential remarks, Governor of Kerala, Arif Mohammed Khan, referred to Guruji's sacrifice and underlined the need to disseminate the basic teachings of Guru Tegh Bahadur among the people.
He also appreciated the services rendered by the Sikh community from across the globe to lend a helping hand to the people of Kerala, even though the state has a minuscule Sikh population during the floods last year.
Earlier in his welcome address, Additional Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu, Jagmohan Singh Raju, and mentor of the K.S. Raju Legal Trust expressed gratitude to Amarinder Singh for the kind words for his late father K.S. Raju, whom the Chief Minister described as an able administrator for the overall development of Patiala city as being Deputy Commissioner.
Noted writer, filmmaker and philanthropist Harinder Singh Sikka said this webinar would go a long way to inspire the humanity with Guru Sahib's universal message of unity, sacrifice and righteousness.
He also proposed the vote of thanks on the occasion.