Devotees take a dip in the sacred pond of the Golden Temple in Amritsar on August 31. Photo/ANI
Devotees take a dip in the sacred pond of the Golden Temple in Amritsar on August 31. Photo/ANI

Sikh hardliners laud Modi govt for removing foreign nationals from blacklist

ANI | Updated: Sep 14, 2019 15:17 IST

Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], Sept 14 (ANI): Several hardline Sikh leaders have welcomed the Centre's move to remove 312 Sikh foreign nationals' names from its blacklist which barred them from travelling to India.
Former Khalistan ideologue Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, United Akali Dal (UAD) general secretary Bhai Satnam Singh Manaw and Sarbat Khalsa-appointed acting Jathedar Bhai Dhian Singh Mand were among the leaders who lauded the government's decision.
The Central government has recently removed 312 Sikhs from its "Adverse List" consisting 314 names after a review, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sources told ANI on Friday.
Calling the Centre's move as "commendable", Zaffarwal in a video released from Gurdaspur said: "The Sikhs, whose names were on the list and were living abroad, could not come back to Punjab. With the removal from the blacklist, they will be able to visit their homeland and will be able to take part in the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Ji."
UAD's general secretary Manaw, who was one of the key organisers of Sarbat Khalsa and Bargari Morcha, said the government's move will pave way for the 312 Sikhs to return to India and pay obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
The leaders appealed to the government to release political Sikh prisoners, who have completed their sentence but still are in jails so that they can visit gurudwaras on the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
"We would urge the Central government to release the Sikh political prisoners, the ones who have completed their sentences but are still languishing in jails since long, they should be released so that they can return to their homes," Zaffarwal said.
Reiterating Zaffarwal's demand, Manaw in Punjab's Tarn Taran said: "I would urge the state and central governments to release Sikh prisoners who are languishing in prisons across the country for a long period of time. If there is any problem with it, then they should be released on parole."
The Sikh hardliners asked the Pakistan government to reconsider its decision to levy USD 20 as a service charge on devotees who will be visiting Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib using the under-construction Kartarpur corridor.
Manaw said that the levying of fees will restrict religious rights of Sikhs of all castes and stature to visit Gurudwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib. "Imran Khan should not implement the fees. Sikhs from all sections of life, they all should be given a chance to pay obeisance at the holy sites, visa-free. It will be a good step for all," he said.
Bhai Dhian Singh Mand, who led the Bargari Insaf Morcha, also echoed the same sentiments. "Pakistan government should exempt USD 20 fee which will be charged to devotees visiting Kartarpur Sahib as it will hinder the basic principle of ' Khule Darshan Didar'," he said.
On Friday, sources in the MHA told ANI, "During the 1980s, many Indian Sikhs and foreign nationals belonging to Sikh community fell to anti-India propaganda. Some Sikh Indian nationals fled India to escape Indian authorities, became foreign nationals and took asylum outside India. They were placed in the Adverse List till 2016, making them ineligible to avail visa services to visit India". (ANI)