New Delhi, India — About 1 hundred thousand Sikhs, Hindus and Moslems descended Sunday on a tiny village for the funeral rites of Harchand Singh Longowal.
The Press Trust of India said about one hundred thousand Sikhs, Hindus and Moslems, including several senior government officials, attended the ceremony at Longowal’s namesake village, about 150 miles northwest of New Delhi.
As many as_ 100,000 Sikhs and Hindus packed the village the day after Longowal’s assassination for the Sikh leader’s official state cremation. Sunday’s ceremony capped the mourning rites required by his religion.
In a message read during the ceremony, Gandhi said, “I appeal to the people to carry forward the message and work of Longowal for the progress and prosperity of Punjab.”
Longowal signed a pact with Gandhi in July that attempted to end a campaign launched in 1982 for greater autonomy in Punjab, the only state where Sikhs are a 65% majority.
Longowal’s assassins were thought to be Sikhs who wanted to continue the fight for a state independent from Hindu-dominated India.
At the funeral rites, Sikh priests recited from the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of their religion, and several Sikh chiefs made speeches, the Press Trust domestic news agency reported.
“He (Longowal) became an apostle of peace and love and a second Gandhi of the 20th century,” said Longowal’s successor, Surjit Singh Barnala, referring to Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi, gunned down in 1948 by a radical of his own Hindu religion.
Article extracted from this publication >> September 6, 1985