Chandigarh, July 8: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal described the ban imposed on a song calling for release of the Sikh detenues by Kanwar Grewal as a most unfortunate development and asked the union government to reverse this decision keeping in view citizens’ right to freedom of speech as well as the sentiments of the Sikh community.
The SAD president said the song ‘Rihai’ sung by Kanwar Grewal reflected the sentiments of Sikhs worldwide who were perturbed at the continued incarceration of Sikh detenues even after completion of their life sentences. “Kanwar Grewal has done nothing more than use poetic license to highlight this grievance besides demanding that history books should not be rewritten. This does not call for a ban under any circumstances”.
Appealing to centre to reconsider its decision, Mr Sukhbir Badal said “such bans have the capacity to create a wrong impression about India in the comity of nations. We cannot be seen to be suppressing the freedom of speech which is enshrined in our constitution.
India is known as the world’s largest democracy which respects pluralism. The union government should ensure the country stays this way. Democracies which do not respect freedom of speech and expression cannot remain sustainable for long”.
Mr Badal said he would take up this issue in the forthcoming parliament session also. “The ban on the ‘Rihai’ song comes soon after the ban on the posthumous song ‘SYL’ sung by renowned artist Sidhu Moosewala which also reflected the aspirations of Punjabis who do not want their water to be diverted to Haryana through the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal”.
He said the SAD would also ask the centre to disclose the specific complaint in both cases and who had registered the complaint while asking YouTube to ban both songs in India. “We will also demand a broader discussion on this issue to ensure corrective steps can be taken and this trend is stopped”, he added.