Sunday February 18, 2018
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No Sikh Regiment in R-Day parade ‘sad and regrettable’: Badal to PM

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Chandigarh: The controversy over the exclusion of the Sikh Regiment from the Republic Day parade in Delhi refuses to settle down, with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday describing the episode as “sad and regrettable” in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and saying that the community was “hurt”.

In his letter, Badal said “the absence of the Sikh regiment from the Republic Day parade was sad and regrettable”.

Badal urged the central government to issue necessary instructions and guidelines “to ensure that the Sikh Regiment is never kept out of Republic Day parade in future”.

“A widespread feeling of hurt and resentment (has been) caused by the non-inclusion of the Sikh Regiment in the Republic Day parade where French President Francois Hollande was the chief guest,” Badal said in the letter.

According to reports, the Sikh Regiment, which had participated in the parade earlier, was excluded this time.

The Sikh community has been at loggerheads with the French government due to the latter’s ban on students wearing turbans in schools in France as it was seen as a religious symbol.

“The Republic Day parade is always regarded as a great occasion to showcase India’s multi-cultural and multi-religious identity, highlighting its secular ethos.

“As a vibrant and fiercely patriotic minority community in the country, the Sikhs are always seen as the most powerful symbol of this multi-dimensional identity and secular character of the country,” Badal said.

“The exclusion of the Sikh Regiment from the parade would be regrettable at any time but it was doubly so this year because of the presence of the French president as a special guest at the event.

“The Sikhs have been facing several practices in France which amount to the denial of freedom to observe the fundamental religious practices to the community, including a ban on the wearing of turbans one of the five symbols of their religion,” Badal said.

Incidentally, the French president started his India tour on January 24 from Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana which was designed by French architect Le Corbusier.

Hollande was received at the Chandigarh airport by Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, who is also the acting Punjab governor, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher.

However, Punjab Chief Minister Badal was admitted to a hospital a day earlier and could not meet Hollande. But his son and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal did not step in to receive the French president.

Modi, breaking protocol, specially flew to Chandigarh to welcome the French president at the famous Rock Garden. (IANS)

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Modi to lay foundation stone for Abu Dhabi’s first Indian temple

The temple compound will include a visitors' centre, prayer halls, exhibition centre, learning areas, sports area for children and youths, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, books and gift shop and other facilities

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will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons
will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community. Wikimedia Commons
  • This is Modi’s second visit to the UAE after August 2015
  • Modi was scheduled to arrive here in the evening
  • The temple’s construction will be completed by 2020, and open to people of all religious backgrounds

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday laid the foundation stone for the first Hindu temple in the United Arab Emirates’ capital, which is home to a huge Indian diaspora.

This is Modi’s second visit to the UAE after August 2015. He was scheduled to arrive here in the evening.

“The first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi will come up on 55,000 square metres of land and the groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday will be a historic event,” said Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri.

The Indian leader will be laying the foundation stone for the temple from the Dubai Opera House via video conferencing. He will also hold a meeting there with the Indian community.

“The occasion is going to be historic… because it will also see the commencement of the first Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi. We are very pleased that we have received 55,000 square metres of land near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway,” said Suri.

The temple’s construction will be completed by 2020, and open to people of all religious backgrounds.

It will be the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East, said a spokesperson from the BAPS Swaminarayanan Sanstha that is entrusted with the design, construction and management of the temple.

Also Read: Kerala Tourism to organise promotion event in Abu Dhabi to attract cash-rich Arab travellers

The temple will be hand-carved by Indian temple artisans and assembled in the UAE, said the BAPS spokesperson.

The UAE has two Hindu temples which are located in Dubai. Devotees from Abu Dhabi and other emirates have to drive to Dubai for prayers and offerings.

The temple compound will include a visitors’ centre, prayer halls, exhibition centre, learning areas, sports area for children and youths, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, books and gift shop and other facilities.

Sadhu Brahmaviharidas, the chief spokesperson of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, said the generous gift of land for a Hindu temple by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, “was a strong and sound message to the world that cultural and spiritual inclusiveness is the way forward for global harmony”.

It will replicate the BAPS temple in New Delhi and the one under construction in New Jersey, a trust member told the Khaleej Times.

BAPS manages 1,200 temples in India, UK, the US, Australia, Canada and Africa.

Also Read: Abu Dhabi keeps the Smart City dream alive

Meanwhile, the UAE’s iconic buildings like the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Frame, Adnoc building and the Emirates Palace were lit up in colours of India’s flag ahead of Modi’s visit to the country.

Modi’s high-level engagements here include bilateral meetings with top UAE leaders and a keynote address at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Sunday, in which India is the guest country.

Earlier in the day, Modi was in Ramallah where he received a rousing welcome on the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Palestine. (IANS)