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SAD chief Sukbhir Badal writes to PM, urges Bharat Ratna for Master Tara Singh

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Chandigarh, Feb 10 (PTI) Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday urged the Narendra Modi government to confer Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian honour, on party stalwart Master Tara Singh.

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In a letter to Prime Minister Modi, Badal described the late Tara Singh's "contribution to the cause of our freedom and to keeping the West Punjab including the present day Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh in India as unparalleled and decisive".

"It is an honour already long overdue and the time has come to undo this wrong and acknowledge Masterji's debt by bestowing the highest honour of the country on him," he said.

In a statement, Badal lashed out the Congress, saying,"If the Congress leaders of those days had heeded to Masterji's call, our Punjab and India would have extended beyond Lahore, the capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and we would not have been parted from sacred shrines including Gurdwara Panja Sahib, Nanakana Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib." The SAD president in his letter also recalled how Tara Singh "single handedly fought during the days just prior to the Partition to keep areas from the western edge of the erstwhile United Punjab to Delhi as parts of India".

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"This area was being eyed greedily by (Muhammad Ali) Jinnah who wanted the entire Punjab to go to Pakistan. Without Masterji's fearless and successful struggle, even Kashmir would never have formed a part of India as its only land link with the country would have snapped. Punjab serves as a geographical bridge between the mainland and our northern state," said Badal.

"Without this geographical bridge, even Kashmir might have fallen prey to the greed of our western neighbours," he said and added that if there is one Indian who truly deserves to be called Bharat Ratna, it was Master Tara Singh.

Masterji was the tallest Sikh leader of his era and one of the greatest of all times, the SAD president said. India owes a huge debt of gratitude to Tara Singh, he said. PTI CHS -- ANB ANB ANB

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