Responding to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) allegation that the Congress government in the state is "distorting the Sikh history", a senior Punjab Minister on Wednesday said the Akali Dal and its leaders are only trying to stoke religious passions by raking up the book issue.
Punjab Rural and Urban Development Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa charged five-time Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal with "stoking religious passion through the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to put Punjab on fire again for their vested political interests".
"Desperately looking for an agenda after facing the boycott by the people for the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and misuse of highest institutions of SGPC and Akal Takht Sahib, the Badals are out to put Punjab on fire again, the way the party had done in 1980.
"It is on record that it is the Shiromani Akali Dal that had provided legitimacy to the (militancy-related) killings by hailing such actions in the very beginning by adopting a resolution at its working committee meeting on August 20, 1980. I can forward that resolution to the Badals," Bajwa said in a statement here.
Bajwa, while defending the Punjab government over the book issue, said the Badals are determined to exploit the issue of "mistakes" in the history book for Class XII of the Punjab School Education Board that has already been withdrawn on the orders of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
The Badals and the Akali Dal have demanded action against those who were allegedly behind the "distortion of Sikh history" in the PSEB school books.
Bajwa pointed out that out of the six members of the committee, which had been entrusted with the responsibility of preparing this book, four were internationally recognised historians and two were Sikh historians.
"The committee was chaired by Prof Kirpal Singh who has been a member of Sikh History Research Board constituted by SGPC for two decades and he is also working on a prestigious SGPC project. The Akal Takht Sahib has bestowed the honour of National Professor of Sikhism upon him in January 2014," he said.
The Minister said the remaining two members were nominated by the SGPC. "The other three eminent historians were Dr J.S. Grewal, Prof Indu Banga and Prof Prithipal Singh Kapur," he added.
"The issue is not just about the history book but a frantic bid by the Badals to regain relevance by creating trouble in a peaceful Punjab," Bajwa said.
He also asked the SGPC to provide details of the books that were published by it and subsequently withdrawn as the same had blundered, including the one by the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti.
(With inputs from agencies.)