Sikh leaders order demolition of Golden Temple replica


Amritsar (Punjab) : Furious over a sect’s attempts to replicate the design and structure of the Sikh community’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s highest temporal seat Akal Takht Friday ordered it to raze the structure.

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A meeting was called by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), which manages the affairs of Sikh shrines, here Saturday to decide the fate of the Mastuana Gurdwara in Punjab’s Sangrur district, 170 km from Chandigarh,

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar later said all Sikh organisations and religious groups like Damdami Taksal, Sant Samaj and Dal Khalsa attended the meeting and the Akal Takht decided to demolish those structures of the Mastuana Gurdwara that are similar to the Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple.

“They have given the responsibility of executing this work to the SGPC. All of us abide by the verdict of Akal Takht,” he told IANS.

The private shrine that is being built by Mastuana Dera in Sangrur, has upset Sikh leaders and religious organiSations because of its similarity in design with the Golden Temple.

The SGPC had sent a probe panel to the replica shrine which recorded video evidence and submitted its report, saying that the sect was trying to replicate Sikhism’s holiest shrine.

The representatives of Mastuana Dera were also present during the meeting and expressed willingness to abide by the final decision of Akal Takht.

Kanwarpal Sikh, secretary of radical Sikh group Dal Khalsa, said the Mastuana gurdwara’s move was unacceptable and the only option to end this controversy is to demolish the whole structure.

“There are only two options, either the Akal Takht will direct the SGPC to pull down the structure or we people would ourselves flatten it through kar sewa (community service),” he said.

The controversial shrine, owned by cash-rich Mastuana Dera headed by Sant Sadhu Singh, has been under construction since 1967. It had provoked similar controversy when its outer shape became apparent in the early 1990s and the then Akal Takht jathedar (head priest) had issued a Hukumnama (religious edict) barring its completion till key structural changes were made.

The Mastuana sect comprises of Sikh followers, mostly from the lower strata of society. Its main influence is limited to a part of south-west Punjab’s agricultural belt of Malwa.

Recent attempts to restart work on the incomplete shrine had provoked angry reactions from other Sikh organisations.