New Delhi: Less than 24 hours after wrestling the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in a bypoll, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann momentarily dropped a pro-Khalistan reference from his Twitter bio before restoring it Monday.
Restored to its original form, the 77-year-old’s Twitter bio now reads: “Member Of Parliament (Lok Sabha) Sangrur | President Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), striving for #Khalistan(sovereign state for Sikhs)”.
Mann defeated AAP’s Gurmail Singh in the parliamentary bypoll Sunday by a margin of 5,822 votes, shattering the ruling party’s hopes of retaining the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat for the third time. The seat fell vacant after the AAP’s two-time MP from Sangrur, Bhagwant Mann, contested the Punjab assembly elections earlier this year and became chief minister.
A proponent of Khalistan, former IPS officer Simranjit Singh Mann — the president of a splinter group of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) — has consistently raised issues related to the rights of Sikhs, Kashmiris and other minority communities.
Mann had resigned from the Indian Police Service in 1984 to protest Operation Blue Star, which culminated in the death of pro-Khalistan leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
After winning the Sangrur bypoll Sunday, Mann said his victory was a big win for the “teachings that Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale has given”.
“The Sikh community is very upset with the death of Deep Singh Sidhu and Sidhu Moose Wala and now the Indian government will not behave in the same way that it is behaving with the Muslims, like their localities are being questioned, like the Indian Army is committing atrocities in Kashmir and killing Muslims on a daily basis”, he told reporters.
On Kashmir, minorities
First elected to the Lok Sabha from Tarn Taran in 1989, and then from Sangrur in 1999, Simranjit Singh Mann is no stranger to controversies.
He was arrested in 1984 on various charges, including for his alleged role in a conspiracy to murder the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, and spent five years in jail till 1989.
Mann is also the brother-in-law of former Punjab chief minister and Punjab Lok Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh.
During his term as an MP from 1999 to 2004, Mann made headlines for ordering the construction of cow shelters in his constituency and was also declared ‘outstanding parliamentarian’ by the then Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
In 2016, Mann claimed that he was placed under “house-arrest” after he announced a protest march to Bargari in Faridkot district against police inaction in the 2015 sacrilege case that took place there.
That same year, the former IPS officer celebrated the release of Paramjit Singh Pamma, a Khalistani militant who had been apprehended in Portugal but freed after the Portuguese government turned down an extradition request by India. Pamma is alleged to be a key conspirator behind the 2010 twin blasts in Patiala and Ambala.
A quick glance at Mann’s Twitter timeline will yield multiple posts about the rights of Kashmiris, Muslims and other minority communities. Another feature of his timeline are posts dedicated to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
“India claims Kashmir as its part. When army kills a Kashmiri, India says a terrorist is killed. When a soldier is killed, it is said he is a martyr. When a citizen of India is killed, how can one become a terrorist and the other a martyr,” reads one of Mann’s tweets from 2017.
Advocating the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir, Mann shared pictures of himself carrying posters saying, “stop the Kashmiri Genocide by the Indian Army”, in July 2016.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)
Source: The Print