PM Modi At Red Fort To Mark 400th Birth Anniversary Of Guru Tegh Bahadur: Why It’s Not Another Sarkari Event

PM Modi At Red Fort To Mark 400th Birth Anniversary Of Guru Tegh Bahadur: Why It’s Not Another Sarkari Event

by Swarajya Staff - Apr 21, 2022 07:36 PM +05:30 IST
PM Modi At Red Fort To Mark 400th Birth Anniversary Of Guru Tegh Bahadur: Why It’s Not Another Sarkari EventGuru Tegh Bahadur

What is happening?

Prime Minister Modi will deliver a speech from the Red Fort later tonight, around 09:15 pm to mark the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru.

In a new practice, the PM will make his speech from the lawns of the Red Fort and not the ramparts. Also, it will be the first time PM Modi speaks from the Red Fort after sunset.

Why the Red Fort?

It was from the Red Fort itself that Aurangzeb had given the orders to execute Guru Tegh Bahadur, in 1675 CE.

The execution was carried out near the fort itself. The Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk stands at the place of the execution today.

The context

Historic: An event in the honour of Guru Tegh Bahadur with the prime minister leading the ceremony, from the same place from which the Guru’s execution was ordered, is significant in itself.

It sends the unambiguous message that the Indian state under the current government identifies itself with the Sikh tradition and not with the Mughal state.

In fact, tonight’s event was officially inaugurated yesterday, with Home Minister Amit Shah and many chief ministers in attendance.

Political: The Red Fort was the site of violent protests and rioting by so-called farmer groups on 26 January 2021.

Most of the protestors were from Punjab and Haryana and many were Sikhs. As the protests turned violent, a large mob had gathered at the Red Fort and unfurled the nishan sahib from one of the poles. The nishan sahib is a religious flag of Sikhism.

This act of the rioters was seen as an attack on the Indian state itself since it is from the Red Fort that the Prime Minister unfurls the national tricolour on Independence Day. It was seen as an attempt to pit the Sikh faith against the Indian state.

With tonight’s event and the PM’s speech, the same venue where the rioters tried to position one against the other would send the message that Sikhism and Sikh society is an integral part of both the Indian nation and the Indian state.


Many Sikh separatists elements were reported to be a part of the ‘farmers’ protests. Besides that, there have been grounds to suspect that the separatist forces are trying to gain ground in Punjab more strongly than ever.

With the legacy of the ‘farmers’ protest, a crippled economy, and a state government antagonistic to the Centre, Punjab is in a delicate situation.

It is in this context that we should view the Prime Minister’s recent series of events with the Sikh society, starting with the rollback of the three ‘farm laws’. Tonight’s event too forms a part of the same outreach and assurance project.


The time of PM Modi’s address, 09:15 pm, is ‘prime time’ for TV. It signals that his speech is not just for those present at the venue, but is an ‘address to the nation’ by another name.

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