With the formation of 41-member ad hoc Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee ( HSGMC) on Wednesday, the long pending demand of the Sikhs of the state has been met. The movement of a separate panel that started in 2000 under the leadership of late Harbans Singh Dachar and Didar Singh Nalwi has witnessed several ups and downs.
Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (ad hoc) leaders Jagdish Singh Jhinda and Nalwi alleged that the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) of Punjab was controlling the SGPC and the donations from Haryana were being spent to suit the political designs of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
In the general house elections of SGPC in 2004, the HSGPC (ad hoc) won seven of 11 seats of Haryana.
Sensing the popular mood of Sikhs, the Congress party put the issue of formation of separate Sikh panel in its election manifesto in the 2005 assembly polls.
After coming to power, the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government constituted a committee under the then state assembly speaker HS Chattha in 2005 and it invited affidavits from Sikhs to vote for or against a separate panel.
Later, the Hooda government decided to take legal opinion on the report of the Chattha Committee and delay angered the Sikh leaders who charged the Congress with using Sikhs as vote bank. As no result came out of the committee, Jhinda and Nalwi parted ways in 2009 and floated parallel fronts.
However, as the second consecutive term of the Hooda government was nearing its end, voices of a separate panel surfaced suddenly.
At a Sikh convention organised at Patti Afghan village in Kaithal on July 6, Hooda announced to table a bill on the HSGMC. Though the bill was enacted by the state, it invited more controversy, such as whether the Haryana government had violated the Constitution by passing an act on inter-state issues, validity of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, etc.
THE CORE ISSUE
The Amritsar-based SGPC controls Sikh shrines in Punjab, Haryana, HP and Chandigarh.
In Haryana, there are eight historical shrines with an annual donation of more than Rs 20 lakh each, which are under the direct control of the SGPC, while 17 gurdwaras are under the control of local management committees. Haryana Sikh leaders claim that despite an estimated annual donation of Rs 500 crore from Haryana gurdwaras, the SGPC didn’t run community welfare projects in Haryana. The SGPC was also charged with ignoring Haryana youths for jobs.
However, the SGPC has denied these charges and said the total collection from Haryana shrines was Rs 30 crore, of which Rs 27 crore were being spent to meet the expenses of these shrines and other projects. The SGPC claims that out of 539 SGPC employees in Haryana, more than 400 are from the state itself.