Ready to foil any attempt by the Haryana government to take over the management of gurdwaras, hundreds of supporters of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), including women, have started gathering in a large numbers at the historic gurdwara Chhevin Patshahi here since Thursday evening.
Members of the security task force of the SGPC and activists of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) from Punjab and Haryana are camping to guard the shrine. Similarly, SGPC supporters from the adjoining districts of Saharanpur and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh are also reaching here.
A visit to the shrine revealed that a multi-storey sarai or inn located adjoining the gurdwara complex is packed with Nihangs and other Sikhs wearing blue turbans and carrying kirpans, a trademark of Akalis.
Unlike normal days, a group of women from Punjab was seen guarding the main entrance of the gurdwara.
The shrine is on the radar of the intelligence sleuths and a large number of police officials in plain clothes have been deployed around the shrine to keep a vigil on the developments inside the gurdwara.
Though senior vice-president of the SGPC Raghujit Singh Virk denied deployment of any security task force, sources in the state police confirmed presence of people from outside the state, roped in by the SGPC and SAD to fortify the shrine.
"Sikh sangat is well aware how the Congress government has tried to divide Sikhs by illegally constituting Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC). People having faith in the institution of Akal Takht are voluntarily arriving in a large number. We will not hesitate to react with full force to any extent to foil any effort by any agency, including the Haryana government, to take management from the SGPC," said Virk, while adding that Sikhs are ready to lay down their lives to keep sewa away from the Congress-backed committee.
Meanwhile, police officials maintaining a close watch on the gurdwara management row said that Kurukshetra was seen as the most sensitive shrine and the SGPC was giving extra attention to it.
Kurukshetra had been tipped to the headquarters of the HSGMC and the SGPC had its sub-office at Chhevin Patshahi premises.
"It is felt that the HSGMC has a large number of sympathisers in Kurukshetra and the SGPC is focusing to fortify the shrine complex for control. In 2009, the Sikh leader Jagdish Singh Jhinda had forcibly taken over the control of Chhevin Patshai with the help of his supporters," said the police source.
"Intelligence inputs say that a 35 members of the task force, including 10 women, are present here. There is no confirmation if anyone is carrying arms and ammunition inside the premises," said the official, adding that the full efforts were being made to avoid any unpleasant situation at and around the shrine.
Another senior police functionary said that the process to flush out the outsiders was a hard task. "Once the state government notifies the HSGMC Act, procedure to hand over the management of shrines would soon start. We may take help of the HSGMC supporters from backchannels to evict the premises without direct involvement of the police," said an official.