The proposal to set up a separate Sikh body to manage gurdwaras in Haryana has stirred a controversy. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has sought the Prime Minister's intervention to stop Haryana from granting approval to such a body.
It feels such a body would create unrest among Sikhs who may see it as interference in their religious affairs by the Congress and the Haryana government.
“It could even lead to militancy,” warned Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD president.
The alternative view is that this demand has not come out of the blue but has been voiced by Haryana's Sikhs since long. Nor is it as if the SGPC controls gurdwaras across the country. Its jurisdiction is limited to Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
“If Delhi Sikhs can have a separate body, why can’t Haryana?” asked Paramjit Singh Sarna, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.
Seven of the 12 members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) from Haryana have supported the demand. The move has the support of 31 members of the SGPC from Punjab.
The SAD is not the sole representative of Sikhs. “The SAD does not want Sikh bodies to function democratically and wants to rule over them by force,” charged Manjit Singh Calcutta, a close associate of the late Gurcharan Singh Tohra, and SGPC member.
“The SGPC could do nothing when a separate body was created in Pakistan to manage the religious affairs of Sikhs there,” said Sarna.
Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda has clarified that it was not his party or government that made the proposal. “The Haryana Assembly passed a private member's bill. The matter has been referred to a committee... If Sikhs in Haryana want to manage the affairs of the gurdwaras here, why should the government come in the way?”
An intra-Sikh war has begun in earnest. The PM should take care to consult all Sikh bodies if he chooses to intervene.