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Gurdwara panel row: Akal Takht steps in, Sikh leaders call off congregation

Source: PTI
Last updated on: July 26, 2014 21:30 IST
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Congregations of Sikhs in Amritsar and in Karnal against the formation of a separate Gurdwara Management Committee in Haryana were called off on Saturday after the Akal Takht's intervention but Haryana Sikhs went ahead with the election of office-bearers for the ad-hoc committee.

In a bid to defuse the situation, the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, stepped in by directing calling off all Sikh congregations planned by ruling Akali Dal in Amritsar on Sunday and in Karnal on Monday against Haryana's decision to create a separate committee to manage Gurdwaras in the state.

Governor-designate Kaptan Singh Solanki, who is tipped to be sworn-in in a day or two, said he would look into the whole issue once he takes over but his personal opinion was that the Centre's directive against Haryana government's new law "must be obeyed".

As tensions mounted, Jathedar Akal Takht Giani Gurbachan Singh issued a directive to all Sikhs of Haryana, the ruling SAD (Badal) and the entire Sikh community not to hold any kind rally or convention on Sunday in Amritsar and in Karnal on Monday by Haryana-based Sikh leaders that could lead to further tension.

Punjab's ruling Akali Dal and Haryana Sikhs subsequently announced calling off their respective conventions which were scheduled to be held at Amritsar and Karnal.

Meanwhile, a congregation of Haryana Sikhs in Kurukshetra elected Jagdish Singh Jhinda and Didar Singh Nalvi, who spearheaded the movement for formation of separate SGPC for the state, as the President and Senior Vice President respectively of the newly notified 41-member ad-hoc HSGPC.

At a hurriedly-convened press conference in Amritsar, the Jathedar said that in the light of the prevailing circumstances, nobody could be allowed to hold convention or rally anywhere in Punjab and Haryana as it may deepen the crisis in the Sikh panth.

Keeping in view the violence

in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, everybody should focus attention on easing the situation there, he said.

A SGPC team led by President Avtar Singh Makkar has been directed to reach Saharanpur to ease the situation, the Jathedar said.

Talking about the separate Haryana Gurdwara Management Committee, the Jathedar said both the parties (Sikh leaders from Haryana and Akali leaders from Punjab) would be asked to come to Akal Takht to find a solution to the problem. 

Sunday's meet in Amritsar was convened after Haryana government refused to pay heed to Centre's directive to revoke the law passed for the creation of a separate SGPC for the state that Punjab has termed "unconstitutional" and "illegal". 

District President of the Amritsar unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Upkar Singh Sandhu told PTI that they have called off the World Sikh Convention which was to be held in the Golden Temple Complex at Amritsar on Sunday. 

"Akal Takht is the supreme authority for the Sikhs. Its directive is binding on us," he said.

Didar Singh Nalvi, who was spearheading the movement for the formation of separate SGPC in Haryana, said that they have called off their Sikh Convention at Karnal on Monday following directions of the Akal Takht.

The standoff between the Amritsar-based SGPC and the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal led by Badals in Punjab and Sikhs of Haryana follows the recent decision of the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government in Haryana to form a separate SGPC for managing Sikh shrines in the state following demands of the Sikhs of the state.

The Haryana Assembly had at its session on July 11 passed the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Bill 2014 to which Governor Jagan Nath Pahadia gave his assent on July 14 despite opposition from SGPC leaders from Punjab. 

Image: The Akal Takht is one of the five seats of power in the Sikh religion. It is located in the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

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