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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Amritsar, February 24, 2013
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has taken a strong notice of the statements by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Capt Amarinder Singh and senior BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia, criticising a 'hazuri ragi' of the Golden Temple for his refusal to perform 'kirtan' at the 'bhog' ceremony of former Punjab Police officer, late Swaran Singh, who had been in the forefront in the battle against terrorism.


The 'bhog' for Swaran Singh, who retired a couple of years ago after attaining the rank of SSP, was held on Sunday at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Urban Estate, Jalandhar. Bhai Baldev Singh Wadala and his 'jatha' was to perform 'kirtan' at the 'bhog' but he refused as he alleged that the retired SSP had been responsible for the 'murder' of former Akal Takht Jathedar, Gurdev Singh Kanoke, during the days of terrorism in Punjab. He had communicated the decision to SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar, who upheld the decision.

Reacting to the decision of the 'ragi', the PPCC chief had alleged that Makkar was directly responsible for the 'ragi' choosing to stay away from the 'bhog' ceremony despite having been booked in advance by the family of the late police officer. In a section of the media, he had termed the decision as unfortunate and had gone on to describe Swaran Singh as a brave and daring officer for whom duty towards country was foremost.

Taking on the PPCC chief, members of the SGPC executive, Rajinder Singh Mehta and Karnail Singh Panjoli, in a joint statement issued here on Sunday, said Makkar had no role in this decision and hence it was wrong on the part of Amarinder to hold the SGPC chief responsible for the decision.

"The 'ragi' listened to his conscience and did what he thought was best. No one can force anyone to do 'kirtan' at a function," they said in the statement.

Questioning Amarinder for calling Swaran Singh a 'brave officer', the SGPC members said it was unfortunate that "those who killed Sikhs" were being described as brave and efficient. The PPCC chief should stop interfering in the religious affairs of Sikhs and concentrate on improving his dwindling position in his party, they added.

Target Kalia

Targeting BJP leader Manoranjan Kalia, the two SGPC members advised him not to comment on matters related to Sikhs.

"If he wants to stay in politics, he should advocate clean, healthy politics," said Mehta and Panjoli, both of whom belong to the Shiromani Akali Dal.