Former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday expressed grave concern over the communal riots in northeast Delhi that claimed 42 lives, saying no one could think such incidents would take place after the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Appealing all to maintain communal harmony in the country, he said, "Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians are brothers."
Parkash Singh Badal, who was addressing a party rally in Bathinda, said, "No country can progress if it does not take care of sentiments of its citizens, especially its minorities, including Sikhs, Christians, and Muslims".
"Be it the Centre or the state governments, winning their trust (of minorities) is important. What happened in Delhi is very unfortunate. One could never think that in our country after 1984 such incidents would take place. But such incidents are deeply painful," the Akali Dal patriarch said.
Expressing concern over the riots, he said, "The situation which the country is going through is worrisome because if there is communal discord, there cannot be anything worse than this."
At least 42 people have been killed and over 200 injured in the communal riots that broke out in northeast Delhi on Monday after clashes between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control.
He said he would also appeal to Akali Dal workers and party leaders that they should make their contribution to ensure peace and communal harmony is maintained.
Invoking Sikh Guru's teachings, Parkash Singh Badal said they also preached unity of all religions.
Last month, while addressing another rally in Amritsar district, Parkash Singh Badal had said minorities have to be taken along to successfully run a government, asserting that all religions should be respected.
His remark at that time had come against the backdrop of criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party, an old ally of the Shiromani Akali Dal, over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
The SAD had earlier wanted Muslims to be included in the CAA, legislation which seeks to give citizenship to the persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, at the Bathinda rally, Parkash Singh Badal also made an indirect reference to ''Taksali'' Akalis or the old guard, which have left the party and have been vocal against the way the Badals run the affairs of the SAD.
Hitting out at them, Parkash Singh Badal said, "Party is like a mother. One mother is who gives you birth, the other mother is the land which feeds you, while the party is that mother in which you get love and respect. Without the party, no one can become a chief minister, a minister or get any self-respecting position."
In a veiled dig at the SAD (Taksalis), Parkash Singh Badal said when they were in the parent party (the SAD) they were made ministers and given plum posts, but they "betrayed" it.
He said they were playing at the hands of those forces who are anti-Punjab and always think about how to weaken the state.
"I want to tell them that they will not gain anything. Their only rant is to remove Sukhbir (Parkash Singh Badal, who is SAD president). When I was the chief minister and SAD president, I told them (the Taksalis who have now floated separate outfit) that I cannot handle both CM and party president posts. At that time they all told me that Sukhbir should be made SAD chief to which I agreed."
Asserting that for him, his party has always been supreme, Parkash Singh Badal said, "For me, the party comes before family, my relations. Whatever party says, I always abide by that."