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Will hardliner Simranjit Mann enter Parliament with Kirpan again?

Will President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and MP-elect from Sangrur Lok Sabha seat Simranjit Singh Mann, a proponent for a separate Sikh homeland, be allowed to enter Parliament with his three-foot-long kirpan (sword)?

In 1999 when the bespectacled public school-educated former IPS officer was elected from Sangrur, he was allowed to enter the Lok Sabha by donning the sword, his trademark.

But in 1989 when Mann, a long-time supporter of Khalistan movement who said Sikhs are not terrorists and they are fighting for a cause, was elected with a record margin of over four lakh votes from the Tarn Taran Lok Sabha seat he was debarred from entering the Lok Sabha carrying his sword and he failed to attend the House.

Mann, who built up his campaign over the recent killing of popular singer Sidhu Moosewala, attributed his win to the youth, Khalistani militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was killed during Operation Bluestar that was carried out by the Indian Army in June 1984 to flush out militants hiding in the Golden Temple complex, and all ‘shaheeds’ (those killed during militancy).

Mann, 77, dedicated his victory to late actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, accused of being the key conspirator of the Red Fort violence on the Republic Day last year, and slain singer Sidhu Moosewala, who met him days ahead of his killing on May 29, “who gave their blood for the Sikh community”.

“This will have repercussions on India’s politics,” he added.

His close aides told IANS that among Mann’s topmost priorities would be to secure the release of a large number of Sikh youths languishing in jails for years.

Convent educated and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, Mann, who on Sunday defeated AAP candidate Gurmail Singh by 5,822 votes, has been critical of the Shiromani Akali Dal leadership for doing nothing for those who have been languishing in jails without any trial.

He’s also strong advocate for long-pending demands of Punjab, which include river water sharing, handing over of Punjabi speaking areas and the transfer of Chandigarh.

Three-time Member of Parliament, Mann resigned from the IPS in 1984 and from the Lok Sabha in 1990 after not being allowed to carry a sword inside Parliament.

The bypoll for Sangrur was necessitated following the resignation of Bhagwant Mann, who won the Assembly election in February from the Dhuri constituency, and became the Chief Minister.

The bypoll is the first major electoral battle after the AAP’s resounding victory in the state Assembly polls.

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