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Punjab MP Simranjit Singh Defends Calling Bhagat Singh 'Terrorist', Repeats Call For Khalistan

Simranjit Singh Mann had dedicated his Lok Sabha by-election victory to Khalistani leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

Punjab MP Simranjit Singh Defends Calling Bhagat Singh 'Terrorist', Repeats Call For Khalistan
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Shiromani Akali Dal-Amritsar (SAD-Amritsar) President and Sangrur MP Simranjit Singh Mann on Monday defended his recent statement calling freedom fighter Bhagat Singh a "terrorist" and repeated his call for Khalistan, a separate country for Sikhs.

Mann took oath as MP in Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla's chamber on Monday in the name of the Constitution of India. He had defeated Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Gurmail Singh in Sangrur Lok Sabha by-election recently by over 5,000 votes.

Talking to reporters after coming out of Parliament, Mann said, "Bhagat Singh had killed a young, English naval officer. He had killed an Amritdhari Sikh constable. What would you call a person who hurled a bomb on Parliament? Tell me what would you call him?" 

Mann further said he continues to support the issue of Khalistan, which is a term for a separate country for Sikhs by carving Punjab out of India. 

Mann said, "There should be a separate country for Sikhs. And Khalistan would act as a buffer state between two nuclear nations India and Pakistan." 

Asked why he is talking about a separate Sikh country while also pledging to protect the integrity of India by taking oath in the name of the Constitution, Mann said, "You are trying to corner me over this, but what would you say about what is happening in Ladakh region? What is China doing there?"

Mann's victory from Sangrur, the home turf of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, came as a setback. Mann had dedicated his victory to Khalistani terrorist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. 

Mann is openly supportive of the Khalistani movement. Punjab has in past seen a bloody insurgency in the past for Khalistan. Several organisations waging the struggle for Khalistan are designated as terrorist organisations, several of whom have carried out terrorist attacks both in India and abroad, killing civilians as well as government-affiliated persons. 

In his unverified Twitter account's bio, Mann writes "Striving for #Khalistan (A Sovereign State For Sikhs)". He has also shared tweets championing Khalistan.

At a press conference in Karnal on July 15, reporters had questioned Mann about an earlier instance where he had used the same term for Bhagat Singh.

In response, Mann had said, "Sardar Bhagat Singh had killed a young English officer, he had killed an Amritdhari Sikh constable, Channan Singh. He had hurled a bomb into the National Assembly at that time. Now, you tell me whether Bhagat Singh was a terrorist or not."

Several Congress members from Punjab on Monday opposed Mann taking oath in the Speaker's office. Three other new MPs were administered the oath in the Lok Sabha chamber. Mann said he requested the Speaker to make him a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs and Defence.

(With PTI inputs)

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