Centre gives Akal Takht Jathedar ‘Z’ category cover, he turns it down

The Ministry of Home Affairs Friday granted ‘Z’ category security to Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh — who declined the offer saying it would come in the way of his work as a religious leader.

The Jathedar was one of 424 people —including singer and Congress politician Sidhu Moosewala — whose security was pruned by the AAP government in Punjab on May 28. Even though it was later restored, the Jathedar refused to accept it.

Moosewala was shot down after the security was trimmed.

Home Ministry officials in Delhi said the decision to accord the Z-category security, the country’s second highest, to the Sikh religious leader was taken in view of an enhanced threat perception.

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“Z category security has been provided to Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Harpreet Singh. The CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) commandos will be in charge of his security,” an official said earlier in the day.

Hours later, the religious leader said that he had come to know about the decision through news reports.

He said: “I am thankful to union government for showing concern. I respect sentiments of government. But I request them to take back this decision.”

Singh said that being the Jathedar, his area of work is to propagate the Sikh religion, it principles and tenets and that he has to travel within and outside the country for the purpose.

The Akal Takht is the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, and Jathedar is its appointed head.

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“I visit different states and countries where I meet with common Sikhs. Sometimes, I also stay at their homes. So the security will affect my interaction with the Sikh community,” he said.

A ‘Z’ category protectee is secured by about 16-20 armed CRPF commandos who are deployed round-the-clock in shifts.

Before the withdrawal, the Punjab government had deployed six personnel — three each from Bathinda police and the India Reserve Battalion — for the community leader’s security.

On Friday, an AAP spokesperson said: “We welcome the decision of Union government to provide security to Akal Takht Jathedar.”

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