Taking a U-turn, leaders of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC) on Tuesday admitted that its three-member delegation that met the leadership from Punjab at Jagadhri in Yamunanagar on Monday, had the prior approval of its executive committee.
However, the HSGMC blamed the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for breaching the trust and feeding the media with incorrect information about the meeting which was supposed to be ‘secret deliberations’ to end the shrine management row.
In its Tuesday edition, Hindustan Times had reported that the HSGMC had softened its stand and had started efforts for a dialogue through various mediators with the Centre and Akali leaders to gain administrative control of gurdwaras in Haryana.
Meanwhile, HSGMC general secretary Joga Singh, who had attended Monday’s meeting, told HT on Tuesday that the meeting was prescheduled and fixed with the prior consent of the executive body, including its president Jagdish Singh Jhinda.
Singh, however, vehemently denied that the Haryana panel agreed to have in place a five-member committee under SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar.
“There was a common understanding that both parties would keep the details secret but the Akali leaders informed media without taking us into confidence. Had there been any positive progress we ourselves had asked to convene a joint press conference to apprise the sangat about the development.
But, it seems, that Akalis did all this to paint the HSGMC in bad light by claiming that Makkar has unanimously been appointed chairman of the proposed committee,” he said.
Though Jhinda evaded comment on the Monday meeting, he said the HSGMC was still not averse to further dialogue with the Akalis, provided they refrained from making unfounded statements about such meetings.
“We have one-point agenda of evicting gurdwaras from the unwanted armed men camping there. HSGMC is a legal entity and there is no question of backtracking on taking sewa but we want to avoid any situation that could trigger violence,” said Jhinda.
Senior vice-president of HSGMC Didar Singh Nalwi admitted that the Haryana Sikh panel failed to handle the issue of deliberations effectively.
“We are very clear that the chairman of a five-member committee would be a neutral person and neither Jhinda nor Makkar could be its chairman. Two members each from both factions should be the members.
“As names of neither members nor the chairman had been finalised, Akalis tried to create a confusion by claiming that Makkar would lead the panel,” he said.
Sharing details of the meeting, Joga Singh said a former SGPC member Amarjit Singh Mangi had offered his residence at Jagadhri to hold a meeting with a delegation from Punjab led by the SGPC president.
“Former Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Paramjit Singh Sarna played the role of a mediator. Claiming that ongoing dharna outside Gurdwara Chhevin Patshahi was earning a bad name to the Sikh religion, Makkar wanted us to end the agitation. We told him that the protest will end only when gurdwaras are handed over to the HSGMC as per legal provisions,” he claimed.
Another delegate and joint secretary of HSGMC Bhupinder Singh Assandh said the committee had full faith in the leadership of Jhinda and Nalwi.
“It was just dialogue at the initial stage but Punjabi leaders disrespected it by issuing irresponsible statements,” said Assandh, also a sitting SGPC member from Karnal.
Jhinda said a Sikh convention had been called on Wednesday at Kurukshetra to decide future course of action on taking over administrative control of gurdwaras.