Chandigarh: 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.
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."