SGPC appeals to PM, calls emergency meet on Haryana breaking away


Chandigarh : Appealing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is a Sikh, to intervene, the Sikhs’ apex Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) Thursday called emergency meetings on Aug 10 and 14 to deliberate on Haryana planning to set up its own separate SGPC.

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“The government is not taking this issue seriously and today we again appeal to our prime minister to intervene in this issue. We have called our executive committee and general body meeting Aug 10 and 14 respectively to decide on further action,” SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar told reporters here Thursday.

He claimed the SGPC has “full support from the Sikhs residing in Haryana and all the gurdwara committees there are with us. The SGPC was formed after a long struggle and we will not allow anybody to dissolve its purpose.”

The SGPC manages all the major Sikh gurdwaras, including the holiest Sikh shrine ‘Harmandar Sahib’ (popularly called Golden Temple) in Amritsar.

The Haryana government’s move to form a separate SGPC also rocked both houses of parliament in New Delhi Thursday following protests from the Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had ignited the controversy afresh last week when he said Haryana would probably have a separate SGPC to manage Sikh shrines in the state.

Hooda said the announcement for a separate SGPC is likely to be made on Haryana Day Nov 1, the day Haryana was carved out as a separate state from Punjab in 1966, provided there are no legal hitches.

Makkar claimed Hooda made the statement to “misguide the people”. “Hooda made false statements that they have got lakhs of affidavits from Haryana Sikhs demanding a separate body for the state. Only a handful of people are with them and they have to bear the consequences of such irresponsible statements,” he said.

Makkar said that he has met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the past to discuss the issue, but to no avail.

“Besides writing to him four times and I had met the PM twice. Once he also called Hooda and told him to end this issue, but nothing substantial came out of it. Being a Sikh himself, he should give priority to solve this issue,” stated Makkar.

The demand first came to the fore when seven Haryana members of the 170-seat SGPC levelled allegations of neglect of the state’s historical gurdwaras “even though they were adding Rs.10 crore of revenue in the SGPC’s kitty every year”.

There are seven major historical gurdwaras in Haryana under the direct control of the SGPC. Eighteen others are under its indirect control — elected members form the local management and one member from the SGPC is co-opted into the panel.