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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

Governor gives assent to Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill

IANS  Chandigarh, July 14, 2014
First Published: 13:50 IST(14/7/2014) | Last Updated: 22:51 IST(14/7/2014)
Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia Monday gave his assent to a new bill, passed by the state assembly Friday, for creating a separate management committee for Sikh shrines in Haryana.
 
With the governor's assent, the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014, will be notified as an act. The Haryana government is all ready to set up an ad hoc committee to manage the affairs of the state's gurdwaras till members to the Haryana Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC) are elected.
 
The bill was introduced and passed by the assembly Friday following a brief discussion. The opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) opposed the introduction of the bill. Legislators of both parties walked out of the house over this issue.
 
The Amritsar-based SGPC, the mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs which controls gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, had submitted a memorandum to the Haryana governor opposing the new bill. It urged the governor not to give his assent to the bill.
 
Pahadia, appointed by the Congress-led UPA government and a former Congress leader, completes his five-year term as governor by the end of July.
 
SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar had cautioned Haryana Sikhs against "falling prey" to the Congress conspiracy to divide the Sikh community.
 
The highest temporal seat of Sikh religion, the Akal Takht, earlier opposed the move by the Haryana government to allow a separate committee to manage gurdwaras in Haryana. 
 
Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal also opposed the bill and its delegation is planning to meet President Pranab Mukherjee to seek his intervention in the matter.
 
A committee constituted by the Haryana government on the issue had submitted its report, recommending a separate Sikh panel to manage gurdwaras in Haryana. 
 
The committee was headed by Haryana's Finance Minister Harmohinder Singh Chatha, who is himself a Sikh from Haryana.
 
There are 72 gurdwaras in Haryana under the SGPC and they contribute over Rs.300 million to the SGPC kitty. The SGPC controls majority of the gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of all Sikh shrines 'Harmandar Sahib' - popularly known as Golden Temple - in Amritsar.
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