Jaishankar kicks off BJP’s outreach bid, woos Sikhs 

External Affairs Minister meets Afghan Sikh refugees, victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots; poor show in Punjabi-dominated areas in the MCD polls last year prompts party to reach out to the community

June 09, 2023 01:12 am | Updated 01:12 am IST - New Delhi

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar (second from right) at the Guru Arjan Dev Ji Gurdwara on Thursday.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar (second from right) at the Guru Arjan Dev Ji Gurdwara on Thursday. | Photo Credit: R.V. MOORTHY

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Thursday met members of the Sikh community — including those who came to India following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan — in West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency, as part of the BJP’s month-long outreach campaign on the completion of nine years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Deputed by the national leadership of the BJP to oversee the month-long campaign in the seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Delhi in the run-up to the 2024 general election, Mr. Jaishankar will supervise the party’s campaign in New Delhi, South Delhi, North West Delhi and West Delhi constituencies. Former Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani will manage Chandni Chowk, North East Delhi and East Delhi.

Widow Colony

Deploying a senior Union Minister and beginning the campaign from a gurdwara, party sources said, was aimed at reaching out to the community, given the BJP’s poor performance in the Punjabi-dominated areas in the MCD polls last year.

Mr. Jaishankar also met the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Tilak Vihar and said that he would raise their issues at the right forum. Ganga Kaur, whose father was killed in the 1984 violence, told The Hindu that the families who were allotted houses in the area — also known as the Widow Colony — are receiving notices to pay for the properties in instalments. “We have been living here for more than 35 years and were told at the time of allotment that we don’t have to pay anything. Over the past year, we have received notices from DUSIB [Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board] to pay ₹5-7 lakh,” she alleged.

Atma Singh Lubana, chairman of a 1984 riot victims’ committee, said that many people in the area have received similar notices as well as power bills running into lakhs of rupees despite Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s 2017 promise to waive them.

Earlier in the day, the Union Minister visited Guru Arjan Dev Ji Gurdwara in Tilak Nagar and met Afghan Sikh refugees. He said that some people want to go back to Afghanistan to tend to their properties and gurdwaras there. “This makes for a good case of them getting multiple or double, triple-entry visas,” he told reporters. “We will do whatever we can to resolve their issues,” he said. .

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