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Patiala Violence, Cause and Kali Devi Temple

Author: Sanjeev Nayyar
Publication: Esamskriti.com
Date: May 6, 2022
URL:      https://esamskriti.com/e/National-Affairs/Current-Affairs/Patiala-Violence,-Cause-and-Kali-Devi-Temple--1.aspx

Who built the Kali Mata Temple in Patiala? What were the causes of violence on April 29, 2022 and what happened.

Last week’s violence in Patiala made headlines. However, some key points are overlooked. This article attempts to provide a perspective.

First, about Kali Devi Temple.

According to the official temple website, “Shri Kali Devi Temple was built by the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala in 1936. The Maharaja was inspired to build the temple and bring the six-foot-tall statues of Maa Kali and Paawan Jyot from Bengal to Patiala. This large complex attracts devotees from distant places. A much older temple of Shri Raj Rajeshwari ji is also situated in the center of this complex. Because of Temple's beautiful infrastructure, it has been declared a national monument. Devotees offer Mustard Oil, daal (lentils), sweets, coconuts, bangles, chunnis, goats, hens and liquor to the Divine Mother here.”

Besides Hindus, the temple attracts large number of Sikh devotees esp. during Navaratras just like the Naina Devi Temple in Himachal does during Hola Mohala at Anandpur Sahib. It probably has to do with the Guru Govind Singhji’s love for Ma Durga. In the Chandi Charitra, the tenth Guru says that in the past god had deputed Goddess Durga to destroy evil doers. That duty was now assigned to him hence he wanted her blessings.

So notwithstanding claims by Sikh hardliners that Sikhs do not believe in idol worship the common Sikh thinks differently. Problems arise when you try to straightjacket Indic ways of living into water tight silos like some do. Indic India believes that all forms can co-exist, one can be Sikh yet worship MAA or be Hindu and atheist.

The violence took place on April 29. It was on this day in 1986 that the declaration of Khalistan was made. I discovered this during a 2015 visit to Freemont Gurudwara in California (locally known as Khalistan Gurudwara). The picture below shows a banner that proclaims 29th April as Khalistan Ailan Diwas (Declaration Day).

So some form of violence or protest on April 29 was to be expected by votaries of Khalistan. Also, was Harish Singla wrong in organising an anti-Khalistan march? His march was for protecting India’s sovereignty. Or was Singla paying the price for campaigning for a Congress candidate in Patiala urban. Source

Also, according to a January 25, 2022 report in the Tribune, one Rajinder Singh attempted a sacrilege inside the temple sanctum!

According to local sources, about 15-20 days before April 29 there were reports of pro-Khalistan posters in various parts of Punjab. This caused disquiet amongst Punjab’s Hindu minority. According to this report in The Print, “The seeds of this violence which took place Friday were sown almost a month ago in March this year when certain groups protested a call by Gurpatwant Pannu, convener of banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) – to hoist its flag in Himachal Pradesh on April 29, which it recognises as ‘Khalistan Declaration Day’. The group had planned to conduct a similar event on 15 April in Haryana too.”

This April 30 Indian Express report says, “Singla had announced the march around 15 days ago after the banned outfit, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), gave a call to observe “Khalistan sthapna diwas (Khalistan foundation day) in April across district police offices in Haryana.”

Harish Singla, leader of Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) is known for his anti-Khalistan views, decided to organise a protest march on April 29 known as Khalistan Declaration Day. Another view is that Singla organised protest march to attract attention because his security cover was recently withdrawn by the Punjab government. It is for the police to tell people the truth.

The same Express report state, “Police officers in Patiala said that a group of Nihangs gathered at Dukh Niwaran Sahib gurdwara to counter the Sena unit’s call and marched towards the temple raising slogans. They were joined by other Sikh activists, they said. The police team, including Patiala SSP Nanak Singh, fired several rounds in the air to disperse the Sikh group which had reached outside the temple.”

The moot point is - why did Nihangs and Sikh activists oppose an anti-Khalistan march?

We must accept that the demand for Khalistan has support among a section of the Sikh community. Recall we had seen similar support during the Red Fort protests /violence by Sikh groups.

Violence in Patiala happened when both the groups clashed outside the Kali Mata Temple. Local sources state that Singla took shelter inside the temple. Sikh activists and Nihangs, brandishing swords, entered the temple courtyard. Fortunately, somebody closed entrance to the temple sanctum.

Wish Punjab Police come out with a public statement on what actually transpired. Can they also explain why a protest march against pro-Khalistanis is wrong?

My humble request to Punjabi brothers and sisters is to focus on making Punjab prosperous once again. If Punjab’s economy is in the doldrums, vested interests will pay lip service to your feelings and then dump you after their purpose is served. Punjab risks becoming a desert in in 25 years because of over-exploitation of ground water. Work towards reducing the number of Cancer cases in Punjab.

This time around there exists a Central Government that relates to Sikhism differently and inclusively. People of Haryana and Himachal are not interested in becoming part of Khalistan. U.S., Canada and U.K. will not support the Khalistani cause, they have fault lines within and China to counter. Pakistan might provide support but the very existence of that nation is in doubt. Also, no Central government will allow formation of Khalistan. Learn from the experience of Kashmiris. Lastly, realise that modern day Sikhism is a colonial construct.

Recently the US State Connecticut recognised Sikh Independence Day. Congress Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Singhvi on Sunday suggested, as a counter, that Rajasthan should recognise Texas as part of Mexico. Source

I worked for three years in Punjab when terrorism was at its peak. It set back Punjab by decades. Any recurrence would mean writing off Punjab forever. NRI’s will not come to help then.

Those who are unwilling to work for Punjab’s progress but yearn for Khalistan may read What happened during the Khalistani Movement

Every effort has been made to be as factual as possible, by referring to numerous media reports. Errors if any are unintended and without malafide intent.


-Sanjeev is a Punjabi by birth and author of a Mini Book ‘How the British sowed the seeds for the Khalistani Movement before the Indians took over’.Pics by author.
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Author: Alka Dhupkar
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 2, 2022
URL:      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/loudspeaker-lessons-for-india-from-a-maharashtra-village/articleshow/91259002.cms

The villagers of Barad have passed a resolution to stop the use of loudspeakers

Barad shows that strong-arm tactics are not needed to curb noise pollution; a simple matter of sitting across a table and discussing can do wonders

Barad is a biggish village in Nanded district of Maharashtra with a population of around 15,000. It is roughly 20km from Nanded city. Over time, the village has prospered and places of worship, among other buildings, have been renovated.

The village has 15 religious places — 12 Hindu temples and a place of worship each for Buddhist, Jain and Muslim communities. In some neighbourhoods, these religious places are in close proximity. No problem there.

It was only when these places started using loudspeakers to broadcast sermons, aartis and bhajans that the problem started. It became a veritable Tower of Babel — all noise and confusion.

“Since five in the morning, we used to play songs. In some places, one couldn’t hear the other’s songs or for that matter what was played in our temple,” says Suresh Deshmukh, a trustee of the local Hanuman temple.

For days on end, farmer Sharad Kawle’s 80-year-old grandmother couldn’t get a peaceful night’s sleep because of the rampant use of loudspeakers in the village.

But all this is in the past now. In charged times like these, Barad stands out as a model of communal harmony. Back in 2018, the villagers unanimously decided to remove loudspeakers from all religious places.

So, what happened in 2018?

According to deputy sarpanch Balasaheb Shankarao Deshmukh, sometime in December 2017, a Ganesh temple was using loudspeakers to broadcast maha aarti and a Buddha vihar nearby was playing religious songs. This went on till late at night.

“Groups from both sides started raising voices against each other, asking that the volume be lowered. Harmony in the village was completely disturbed,” he says. “Somehow we managed to cool tempers, but the tension simmered.”

But this wasn’t the only incident. A local school kept complaining about noise pollution to the Shiva temple trust and others in their area. The students couldn’t concentrate on studies because there was a kind of competition in using loudspeakers till late night and early mornings among all the religions.

The villagers were fed up. Some of them met after the tension escalated between Buddha and Ganpati followers. During a meeting with the local police, they discussed the proposal of removing all loudspeakers.

Thereafter, the villagers held a meeting with all the religious groups separately. Everybody accepted that the use of loudspeakers was a cause for concern and social discord. The religious trusts said if it was mandatory for all religious groups then they would also stop using loudspeakers.

After the consultations, a special gram sabha was called and a unanimous resolution was passed.

The villagers agreed to use sound boxes instead of loudspeakers. The only caveat: the volume of the sound box should be maintained at a pre-mandated level so the sound does not go beyond the walls of the holy place.

The gram panchayat has already installed around 40 small sound boxes for local announcements such as deaths, vaccination or other government programmes.

After the noise, peace

Yogesh Ratnparakhi, who runs Om Sai Coaching Classes in Barad, says, “In my centre, there are around 100 students and I can’t tell you how happy we all are that the loudspeakers have finally stopped. Earlier, students would use unending noise as an excuse not to study. Now, they properly focus on studies.”

Kiran Mahajan, a trustee of Chandra Prabhu Digambar Jain temple, says, “Ours is a private temple that is open to the public. We too had installed a loudspeaker because others installed it too. But after the removal of loudspeakers, we didn’t lose any devotees. Loudspeakers actually don’t matter.”

Sharad Kawle, the farmer, says, “Many of us in this village are followers of the Varkari bhakti movement. I believe that your religious activity should not disturb others. Keep it personal, so we all supported this proposal.”

His views are echoed by Sardar Sattar Khan Pathan of Jama Masjid in Barad. “We respect festivals of all communities. The kind of communal harmony we have maintained would not have been possible with loudspeakers at each religious place in the village.”

According to Vasant Lalme, a trustee of the Shiva temple, loudspeakers are not essential for singing bhajans or kirtans. “Devotion is a very personal feeling. It can be attained without loudspeakers. We have proved it.”

Model village

Deputy sarpanch Deshmukh, however, is disappointed that his village has not been given due recognition for the innovative solution to the menace of unchecked loudspeakers. The village doesn’t encourage the use of loudspeakers even for political rallies, weddings or other celebrations.

In other ways, too, Barad can be touted as a model village. It has received state awards for cleanliness and drinking water distribution management, open defecation-free status, success of ‘tanta mukti’ yojana (a scheme to clear local disputes at the village level) and other achievements.

The village has 20 CCTV cameras, which have helped curb theft, sexual harassment and other crimes. The village has developed a proper watershed system; a dormitory near a rural hospital is a unique feature of the village. It has also built a hostel for girl students, it has a zilla parishad school, multiple anganwadis, among other facilities.

As the noise over the use of loudspeakers at religious places grows louder and various state governments are using strong-arm tactics, perhaps it is Barad’s use of consultation that stands out more than its other achievements.