PATNA: RJD chief Lalu Prasad today said his party would go ahead with its decision to observe a Bihar bandh on December 21 and assured the Sikh pilgrims coming to the state to take part in the closing ceremony of the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh that it would not cause any problems for them.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has called the bandh to protest against the sand mining policy of the Nitish Kumar government.
Prasad's assurance to the Sikh pilgrims comes in the backdrop of the JD(U) questioning the bandh, with only two days to go for the "Shukrana Samaroh", the closing ceremony of the 350th birth anniversary of the 10th Sikh Guru.
The event is slated to be held in the state capital from December 23 to December 25.
"We have great respect for the Sikh community. We had participated in the opening ceremony of the 350th birth anniversary (of Guru Gobind Singh) function in January. I had sat on the ground and bowed my head to Guru Gobind Singhji Maharaj," the former Bihar chief minister told reporters.
The sand mining policy of the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in the state had caused a slump in construction activities and led to loss of jobs among the workers, who were migrating to the other states in search of work, he claimed, adding, "Our fight is against a government which is indifferent to the plight of the common people." Stating that his party was well aware of the sentiments of the Sikh pilgrims, the RJD chief said the places associated with the celebrations such as the gurdwaras, bypass road, tent city would be exempted from the bandh and hence, the pilgrims would not face any problems.
Instead, RJD workers would help the pilgrims reach their destinations, he added.
On account of the "Shukrana Samaroh", it was also decided to exempt the emergency services, including ambulance, train and flight services, from the bandh, Prasad said.
Bihar JD(U)'s chief spokesman Sanjay Kumar Singh had yesterday questioned the RJD's decision to observe the bandh in view of the "Shukrana Samaroh".
"Nitish Kumar has deferred his Vikas Samiksha Yatra, keeping in mind the Shukrana Samaroh, while the RJD has called for a bandh to protest against the sand mining policy," he had told reporters here.
The erstwhile Grand Alliance government in the state, comprising the JD(U), RJD and Congress, had organised the "Prakash Parv" on a grand scale in the first week of January to mark the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh. The event was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi among others.
Patna Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, is considered one of the holiest places by Sikhs across the globe, besides being a major tourist attraction.