Kurukshetra is bracing for another Mahabharata, this time between two rival groups fighting for control of a gurdwara.
On Sunday afternoon, nearly 400 men led by Haryana Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (HSGPC) chief Jagdish Singh Jheenda took control of the historic gurdwara dedicated to sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind Singh at Kurukshetra in Haryana.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbadhak Committee (SGPC), which managed the gurdwara described the takeover as unauthorised and vowed to wrest it back, with force if the necessary.
SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar, who was on way to Kurukshetra, 100 km from Chandigarh, told Hindustan Times that he had asked his supporters to assemble outside the gurdwara and evict Jheenda and his men.
But Jheenda’s supporters left the gurdwara around 8.30 pm with the warning that they would take over the holy place again if the management is not handed over to the HSGPC.
“We wanted to show that we are capable of wresting control by force. It was symbolic. We took the control for eight hours... we will do it again if our demand is not met,” Jheenda said.
Makkar said the Haryana Police watched while Jheenda’s men stormed the gurdwara and roughed up several SGPC caretakers. He blamed Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for the incident, saying Hooda didn’t respond to his phone calls.
“Yielding sporadic support from Haryana Sikhs, Jheenda took this step with the active involvement of the government. We are sure to evict him, and if any untoward incident takes place, the government would be solely responsible, Makkar said.
Makkar said Jheenda’s motive behind taking control of the place of worship was to divide Sikhs in Haryana so that the Congress could derive political mileage in the assembly polls.
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said Jheenda and his supporters violated the maryada (religious code of conduct) by interrupting the recitation of the Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs.
Singh said Jheenda and his aides would be summoned to the Akal Takht and asked to explain their act, and if they failed to satisfy the clergy, they would be excommunicated.