Virtually sounding the bugle for an agitation against the formation of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC), the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Tuesday vowed to fight “a decisive battle” for the repeal of the controversial law enacted by the Haryana government.
At a high-decibel meeting presided over by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, frontline SAD and SGPC leaders stridently advocated a “fight-to-finish” approach to “thwart the Congressled Haryana government’s design to take control of Sikh shrines in Haryana”. Also present at the meeting at the party headquarters here were Manjit Singh GK, president of the SAD-controlled Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and Sikh leaders from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
Speaker after speaker alluded to Badal as ‘Panth Rattan’ — a title bestowed on the Akali patriarch by the Akal Takht — and urged him to lead the fight against what they termed as “conspiracy hatched by the Gandhi family and the Congress to split the SGPC” and weaken Sikh institutions, including the Akal Takht.
PRELUDE TO BIGGER CONGREGATION
Tuesday’s meeting, a prelude to a bigger Panthic gathering summoned at the Golden Temple complex on July 27, was clearly part of the Akali leadership’s strategy to ramp up pressure on the NDA government to undo the HSGMC act and also to position itself as the sole representative of the Sikh Panth. The latter part of the gameplan was evident when Parkash Singh Badal announced that the SAD would spearhead whatever course of action would be decided by the Amritsar congregation.
“Our struggle is against the unconstitutional law Haryana has enacted. This is a big conspiracy of the Congress against the Panth and it has been hatched by anti-Sikh Congress and the Gandhi family,” Badal said, prompting full-throated religious shouts of ‘Bole so nihal…’ by participants.
He made a fervent appeal to spiritual leaders of all faiths and sects and also called upon political leaders to “understand the gravity and seriousness of the issue”, saying if the matter is not resolved properly the situation “could take a serious turn”.
HOODA PLAYED MISCHIEF: BADAL
Accusing the Haryana chief minister of “having played a mischief”, Badal said, “(Bhupinder Singh) Hooda has lit a spark but the Congress still has enough time to undo its act till July 27.” “I appeal to the Gandhi family and also warn it that both nature and God have always punished those who have gone against the Akal Takht,” he said. Stopping short of formally announcing a morcha, SAD president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the Sikh community was ready for a ‘sangharsh (struggle)’ and would not allow the SGPC’s bifurcation “come what may”.
While warning Hooda, Sukhbir dubbed Haryana Sikhs supporting a separate gurdwara panel as “traitors”.
SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar was no less strident. “The Khalsa will not let the Hooda government take over the possession of gurdwaras in the state,” he said.