Despite facing criticism from Sikhs for skipping his visit to a gurdwara in Karnal, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday reiterated he won’t go to a gurudwara with portrait of Khalistan ideologue Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

On being asked to comment on the demand being raised by the people of Sikh community that CM should visit the gurudwara in Karnal, Khattar said that though he has a deep respect for Gurughars but he would not visit any Gurudwara as has the photo of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the Khalistan ideologue.

Addressing a Press conference, he said that during his visit to 13 tiraths (pilgrim places) falling under 48 kos parikarma on 29 September, he was invited to the Gurudwara falling in district Karnal. But he had to skip his visit after he was informed about the photo of Khalistan ideologue Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the Gurudwara. He said that this issue would be sorted out soon after holding discussion with the representatives of the Sikh Community.

The CM said that the present state government has organised several functions including the 350th birth anniversary of 10th Guru Shri Guru Gobind Singh which was celebrated throughout the state with great enthusiasm.

Now, a committee has also been constituted for celebrating the 550th birth anniversary of Shri Guru Nanak Devi. The services of two trains was also provided for taking the pilgrims to Patna in Bihar 350th birth anniversary of 10th Guru Shri Guru Gobind Singh, Khattar added.

On the suggestion if the protests over incidents indicate spread of radicalism in Haryana, Khattar said the problem will not be allowed to spread in the state. “We will let this problem to grow in Haryana,” he said.

Following the incident, local Sikhs had damaged a fire tender in protest. They later held a meeting on Saturday and demanded that the CM apologise in the village gurdwara, failing which they will boycott the BJP. They justified the decision to not remove Bhindranwale portrait saying this could lead to tension in the village.

Criticising Khattar’s move to cancel his visit to the gurdwara, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal had on Monday said Bhindranwale was a “quami shaheed” (community martyr) and the Haryana CM had hurt Sikh sentiments by cancelling the visit.

“Bhindranwale is a saint for the Sikhs and he has rendered service to the community. The anger shown by the local Sikhs against this move was natural,” Longowal said, who heads the body which is under the control of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), an alliance partner of BJP that Khattar represents.

Damdami Taksal, which was once headed by Bhindranwale and also has ties with the SAD, sought a apology from the Haryana chief minister. Bhindanwale and his other armed aides were killed during the Operation Bluestar in 1984 launched by the Indian Army at Golden Temple.