Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday regretted the absence of a Sikh regiment contingent in this year’s Republic Day parade even as opposition Congress termed it as a “grave omission”.Describing the absence of the Sikh regiment from the Republic Day parade as “sad and regrettable”, Badal has urged the central government to issue necessary instructions and guidelines to ensure that the regiment is never kept out of the parades in future.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Badal said, “A widespread feeling of hurt and resentment has been caused by the non-inclusion of the Sikh Regiment in the Republic Day parade where French President Francois Hollande was the chief guest.”Badal said the parade was always regarded as a great occasion to showcase India’s multi-cultural and multi-religious identity, highlighting its secular ethos.”As a vibrant and fiercely patriotic minority community in the country, the Sikhs are always seen as the most powerful symbol of this multi-dimensional identity and secular character of the country,” he wrote.He said Sikhs have made unparalleled sacrifices not only for the freedom of the country but also for defending that freedom against foreign aggression.”They have a strong presence in the armed forces and their patriotic and martial traditions are something on which the entire country rightly takes pride,” Badal said.”Because of these factors,” the Punjab Chief Minister said, “The presence of the Sikh regiment in the Republic Day parade is regarded as a natural part of our nationalistic symbolism.” Badal said the exclusion of the Sikh regiment from the parade would be regrettable at any time but it was doubly so this year “because of the presence of the French president as a special guest at the event.”The Sikhs have been facing several practices in France which amount to the denial of freedom to observe the fundamental religious practices to the community, including a ban on the wearing of turbans, one of the five symbols of their religion.”Badal said this would have been an appropriate occasion to demonstrate to the French dignitary the place of the Sikh community in India’s rich cultural identity and its contribution to the cause of freedom.The Chief Minister has appealed to the Prime Minister “to have the issue looked into. Necessary instructions and guidelines may also please be issued to ensure that in future the Sikh Regiment is always included in the Republic Day parade.”Regretting the absence of Sikh regiment, PCC president Amarinder Singh dubbed it as a “grave omission” particularly when President of France, where turban is banned in public places, was the chief guest.”There could not have been a better occasion to convey the importance of the turban to him,” Singh said.Ruing the state government’s “failure” to send its contingent to represent the glorious culture of the state at the parade, Amarinder said in Malerkotla, “The Akalis actually have no idea about the significance and importance of such occasions.”

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No Sikh regiment in Republic Day parade: Parkash Singh Badal regrets, Congress deplores