Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, January 8
With talks deadlocked, the Centre has started roping in heads of religious sects in Punjab to break the impasse on the farm laws.
While Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar met Baba Lakha Singh of Nanaksar Gurdwara yesterday, the BJP is now contemplating involving Giani Harpreet Singh, Akal Takht Jathedar, for mediation between the Centre and protesting farmers.
“As negotiations aren’t moving beyond ‘yes’ and ‘no’, we need a third party whom both sides look up to. There has been trust deficit and spiritual leaders can help bridge the gap. We will approach Giani Harpreet Singh — head of the highest temporal seat of Sikhs,” said BJP national spokesperson Kamaljit Soi.
Soi claimed it was tough to come to conclusion on any point with around 40 union leaders, attending talks from the farmers’ side. “It’s terribly cold and even Baba Lakha Singh was of the view that all farmers, particularly women and children, should return home,” he added.
About the proposed mediation, SGPC chief Jagir Kaur said, “Though the ongoing crisis is no way related to religion, it’s up to Giani Harpreet Singh to decide. Moreover, the Centre has a battery of intellectuals who can play mediator.”
BKU (Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan said by roping in dera heads and priests, the Centre was “trying to play a religious card”. “If we don’t agree to what the Jathedar tells us, they might say we are not even following the Akal Takht diktat. It’s purely a legal matter and we won’t succumb to such tactics,” he said.
Baba Ram Singh, who recently died at the protest site, too was from the Nanaksar sect. Baba Lakha Singh has been running a 24-hour ‘langar’ at Singhu since the protests began on November 25.
“A farmer himself, Baba ji owns plantations and is also an environmentalist. Our minister told him the government’s point of view and he assured us he will talk to the farmers today, which he has done. We are hopeful his message to the farmers will help defuse the situation,” said Soi.
The Nanaksar sect has its headquarters at Kaleran village in Jagraon (Ludhiana), but has centres across Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and even Canada. It was founded by Baba Nand Singh in the 1920s. The sect believes in vegetarianism and the followers wear white turbans. Giani Harpreet Singh could not be contacted.