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President Murmu pays obeisance at Golden Temple, prays for country’s peace, progress

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Amritsar (Punjab):  President Droupadi Murmu paid obeisance at the Golden Temple here on Thursday and prayed for peace, progress and prosperity of the country.

Tight security arrangements were made in the city for the president’s day-long visit.

She also visited Jallianwala Bagh, Durgiana Temple and Bhagwan Valmiki Ram Tirath Sthal here.

Accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Harjinder Singh Dhami, the president paid obeisance at sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple and listened to “kirtan”. She also took “karah prasad”.

This was her first visit to the city after becoming president.

After paying obeisance at the Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple), she went to the “langar hall” (community kitchen) and visited the area where utensils are washed.

Afterwards, she went to the Information Centre of the Golden Temple where she was presented a robe of honour, a set of Sikh religious books, a replica of the Golden Temple, and a set of woolen shawls.

During her visit to the Golden Temple, the president was given two memorandums by the SGPC, the apex religious body of the Sikhs, including one pertaining to the release of Sikh prisoners, its general secretary Gurcharan Singh Grewal said.

The SGPC has been seeking the release of the Sikh prisoners who, it claims, continue to be in different jails despite completion of their sentences.

The SGPC in its memorandum mentioned the names whose release it has been seeking which include Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination, Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, a 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict and Jagtar Singh Hawara, who is serving life term in the Beant Singh assassination case.

Before leaving the Information Centre at the Golden Temple, the president wrote in the visitor book, “I am happy to visit Sri Harmandar Sahib and pay obeisance at the holy temple. This holy place with beautiful architecture and divine serenity around it evokes feelings of calmness and harmony.

“I prayed for peace, progress and prosperity of the country,” she wrote.

The president wrote, “It was great to see the volunteers working tirelessly in the spirit of service and devotion specially during langar. May the teachings of Sikh gurus continue to inspire us to practise brotherhood and unity.”

She also visited the historic Jallianwalla Bagh where she paid floral tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of nation.

She wrote in the visitor’s book that she humbly bows to the country’s brave who sacrificed their lives during the unfortunate genocide of 1919.

“A grateful nation would always remember the martyrs who scarified everything for the nation. This (Jallianwala Bagh) memorial will always remind coming generations about the importance of freedom and sacrifice of brave freedom fighters made for it besides motivating them to make contribution for nation building,” she wrote.

She also paid obeisance at the famous Durgiana Temple where she was honoured with a robe of honour by the temple management committee.

At the temple, she was received and welcomed by BJP leader and temple management committee president Lakshmi Kanta Chawla. Chief Minister Mann and MP Gurjeet Aujla were accompanying her.

On “Bandi Singhs”, the SGPC has been demanding the release of Sikh prisoners through democratic means for a long time, Harjinder Singh Dhami said in the memorandum.

“…we feel that by not releasing the Sikh prisoners, they are being discriminated against and their human rights are being violated grossly in the world’s largest democracy,” said Dhami in the memorandum.

“We demand from you to take cognizance of this important issue of release of Sikh prisoners and give necessary directions to the Government of India and concerned State Governments for their release,” Dhami wrote to the president.

Another memorandum pertained to the setting up of a separate Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee for management of affairs of gurdwaras in Haryana.

The SGPC memorandum alleged that the Haryana government’s nominated gurdwara panel took illegal possession of the historical gurdwara sahibs in Haryana state, which are still notified under the management of SGPC under Section 85 of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925.

The SGPC has sought the president’s intervention in the matter.

The body has also sought repealing of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Act, 2014, under which a separate committee was formed to manage the affairs of gurdwaras in Haryana.

Earlier, upon her arrival at the airport here in the afternoon, the president was received by Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister Mann, Union Minister Som Prakash, and Congress MP from Amritsar Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

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