Uproar over plan for parallel Sikh body | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Uproar over plan for parallel Sikh body

delhi Updated: Aug 22, 2008 23:42 IST
Varghese K George

A move by Haryana’s Congress government to create a separate administrative body for the state’s gurdwaras could create “another trouble spot in Punjab, along the lines of Jammu and Kashmir”, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has warned.

Badal met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday, seeking his intervention in the matter.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), an elected body of Sikhs, manages gurdwaras in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. It also runs several educational and health institutions.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which now rules Punjab, has been controlling the SGPC for years now. Sections of Sikhs want to take control of gurdwaras in Haryana by creating a separate Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (HSGPC).

There are seven major Sikh shrines in Haryana whose official donation figures exceed Rs 20 lakh per annum and are directly controlled by the SGPC. The other segment of 18 Sikh shrines falls in the category of an income below Rs 20 lakh per annum and is governed by local committees.

The Haryana government has announced that it will enact a law in the next session of the assembly. This has triggered angry reactions from the SAD, which is supported by its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party. The creation of the HSGPC was a promise in the Congress manifesto in the last assembly elections. The Akalis are interpreting the move as an affront on the Sikh faith, and have warned of protests in both Haryana and Punjab. The SAD is also determined to make this a campaign issue in the next Lok Sabha elections.

According to Badal, the prime minister has promised central intervention. “The PM should intervene effectively and immediately to save Punjab from being turned into another Kashmir by the Congress’s highly ill-advised and ill-conceived move of setting up a separate gurdwara panel,” he said.

“I hope the Centre realises the gravity of the situation and stops the Haryana government from going ahead with its attempt to break up the supreme and elected Sikh religious institution,” the chief minister added.