The Bharatiya Janata Party today distanced itself from the 'martyr' status conferred on slain extremist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale by the Akal Takht, the highest spiritual and temporal body of the Sikhs, but said its alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal, Badal, will continue.
"It is not a national issue," BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told an unscheduled press briefing. "They [the opposition parties] are creating unnecessary controversies. Some organisation has given [Bhindranwale] this status, but we neither support nor justify it."
Naqvi was responding to questions about the BJP's attitude towards the Akalis in the aftermath of Bhindranwale being declared a martyr. "Relations with the Akali Dal will continue," he said. "In the past as well as at present we have had differences of opinion on certain issues, but our unity continues."
Asked whether the Akal Takht's action has the potential of reigniting the separatist campaign in the Punjab, Naqvi said, "Militancy cannot be revived in Punjab as the people of the state themselves had brought an end to it."