Haryana assembly passes bill for separate SGPC

Chandigarh : Amid stiff opposition from the opposition benches, a bill for creating a separate body for managing Sikh gurdwaras in Haryana was passed by the state assembly Friday.

The Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras(Management) Bill, 2014, was introduced by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala Friday afternoon on the opening day of the state assembly’s monsoon session. It was passed after some discussion in the house.

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The opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) opposed the introduction of the bill. Legislators of both parties walked out of the house over this issue.

In a related development, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs, which controls gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Friday said that it proposed to set up a sub-committee to manage affairs of gurdwaras and Sikh affairs in Haryana. Till now, these were controlled by the Amritsar-based SGPC.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar cautioned Haryana’s Sikhs from falling prey to the Congress conspiracy to divide the community.

The highest temporal seat of Sikh religion, the Akal Takht, had earlier opposed the move by the Haryana government to allow a separate committee to manage gurdwaras in the state.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda had Sunday announced the setting up of a separate Sikh committee for Haryana gurdwaras. He had said that the necessary legislation for this would be brought in the monsoon session of the assembly.

A committee constituted by the Haryana government on the issue had submitted its report in favour of separate Sikh body to manage gurdwaras in the state. The committee, headed by state Finance Minister Harmohinder Singh Chatha, who is himself a Sikh from Haryana, recommended the setting up of a separate body to manage Sikh shrines in Haryana.

There are 72 gurdwaras in Haryana under the SGPC and they contribute over Rs.30 crore (Rs.300 million) to the SGPC kitty. The SGPC controls majority of the gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of all Sikh shrines ‘Harmandar Sahib’ (popularly known as Golden Temple) in Amritsar.