Jharkhand minister finally apologises to Sikhs


Ranchi : After days of protest from Sikhs, an apology from Jharkhand Health Minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi finally seems to have calmed the community.

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The health minister Thursday night sent a written apology to the Central Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (CGPC) of Jharkhand over a statement of his that had irked Sikhs in Jharkhand.

The minister said his statement had been distorted by the media. "I said something about the character of former assembly speaker Inder Singh Namdhari (who is a Sikh) and I had no intention to hurt the sentiment of the Sikh community."

Sardar Shailendra Singh, president of the Jharkhand CGPC, said: "The minister firstly denied the statement reported in the media and secondly apologised for the statement if it hurt the sentiments of the community."

It all began when the health minister offered voluntary retirement over differences with Chief Minister Madhu Koda on development issues. At that time Namdhari had asked: "Why is Bhanu offering voluntary retirement? He should resign if he has the courage."

Minister Shahi had reportedly reacted with a comment that disparaged Sikhs and had threatened to send Namdhari "away to Punjab".

This angered the Sikh community. The health minister's effigy was burnt in several parts of the state, including Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Bokaro.

The Sikh community Thursday took out a procession to the governor's house to lodge its protest.

But with the health minister's apology the issue seems to have been settled.