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    Post Obama to visit Golden Temple in Nov

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    Amritsar Diaspora elated; team of officials from US Embassy in Delhi visits shrine to discuss security matters
    The Sikh Diaspora is elated over the proposed visit of US President Barack Obama to the Golden Temple in the beginning of November when he tours India. A team of US officials visited the shrine on Wednesday and met government and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) authorities to take stock of security issues ahead of the visit.

    While the officials preferred to keep the visit low key and did not issue any statement, the SGPC functionaries said they discussed the preparedness that is required to be ensured for the “VVIP visit”.

    Officials from the US Embassy in Delhi toured the entire Golden Temple complex, noting down every detail of the vast area. They also visited top hospitals and establishments and took stock of emergency services in the city. “They came here to see the preparations that are required to be taken up during the visit,” said SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh.

    In an email message sent to The Indian Express, American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) chief Dr Pritpal Singh said: “The visit has brought joy to all Punjabis settled in the US. The visit will send a goodwill message. As he imbibes liberal traditions, the visit would bring him closer to Eastern traditions.”

    SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar, meanwhile, said they would raise various issues concerning the Sikhs with Obama during his visit. He especially referred to hate crimes in the US due to “mistaken identity”, saying “Sikhs are often mistaken for Arabs”.

    “There are numerous issues to be taken up with him (Obama) and the foremost is the matter pertaining to mistaken identity that has led to crime against Sikhs,” he said.

    Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee head Paramjit Singh Sarna, too, welcomed Obama’s decision to visit Amritsar. “He is our respected guest and I am grateful to those NRIs who facilitated his visit to the holy shrine,” he said.

    Dr Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Washington-based Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said: “The visit will send goodwill gesture to everybody in South Asia and bring forth the need for more in-depth interfaith understanding.”
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