Athawale joins dharna opposing Sikhs referred as Hindus

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New Delhi, Jul 26 (UNI) In a significant development, Republican Party of India (RPI-A) leader Ram Dass Athawale, an MP from Maharashtra today joined the protesting Sikhs staging a dharna and relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar here to press for reviewing the Article 25 of the Constitution which defines Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists as Hindus.

Expressing full support to the issue, Mr Athawale agreed in principle with Daljit Singh, leader of Shiromani Akali Dal, Amritsar (Panch Pardhani), which has organised the Dharana, to launch a national joint front of minorities and depressed people in coming September to confront the increasing hegemony of the RSS and Hindutva outfits in political, soical and economic spheres.

"The Hindutva forces are out to bulldoze the distinct, independent and different identities of minorities and other smaller religious groups rejecting the well-accepted principle of unity in diversity," Mr Athawale said. "I will raise this issue in Parliament too," he added.

The dalits suffered ignominy and humiliation for thousands of years as they were robbed of the right of being a human being ever under 'Brahminical Vanra Ashrma system', Mr Athawale said adding that "same old religious practices concealed in various other forms, are being revived".

The Sikh protest has been continuing since July 20 last which also demands a strict action against the Sirsa-Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim who, they alleged, was violating the Sikh tenets and history.

Saying that their protest will continue, Mr Daljit Singh accused the Centre of encourging anti-Sikh people who have been imnpersonating or equate themselves with Sikh gurus, including Nirankaris, Bhanarewala, Ashutosh and others.

The protesters also demanded the return of priceless collection of sikh literature, paintings and artefacts taken away by the Army from the Sikh Reference Library in the Golden Temple Complex, Amrtisar, during Operation Blue Star in June, 1984.

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