The Congress government in Haryana on Saturday took the Centre head on, asking it to withdraw the July 18 ministry of home affairs (MHA) letter that sought the governor’s withdrawal of assent to the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) legislation. On Friday, union home secretary Anil Goswami had shot off a letter to the Haryana chief secretary and the governor’s secretary in this regard.
In a strongly worded reply, state parliamentary affairs minister Randeep Singh Surjewala on Saturday wrote to union home minister Rajnath Singh terming the MHA letter an affront to the federal structure and parliamentary democracy. “The political stand of either the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) or any other party should never colour the judgment of the union government in being able to decide the issue qua the right of the Haryana legislature within the four corners of the constitutional and legal framework, established federal structure and spirit of parliamentary democracy,” he wrote.
Accusing chief minister Prakash Singh Badal of despatching Akali leaders with armed Punjab policemen to Sikh shrines in Haryana, Surjewala sought the home minister’s intervention in issuing directions to the SAD-BJP government to desist from interfering in Haryana’s affairs.
“Can the Government of India remain a silent spectator to an intentional and calibrated approach towards the creation of a law and order situation by one state within the territorial jurisdiction of another state? Should the Government of India not seek a report in the matter from the governors of both Punjab and Haryana as also from its own agencies?” he said.
‘MHA LETTER INSULT TO HARYANAVIS’
“The assertion in the MHA letter regarding the alleged incompetence of the Haryana legislature to enact a law within its jurisdiction is an insult to 2.5 crore Haryanavis and their elected representatives. The Centre’s stance is in total negation of the rights of the state legislature flowing from Articles 245 and 246 of the Constitution. The state legislature exercised its powers under the Constitution to ensure the grant of right to self-governance, self-determination and service of gurdwaras to Sikhs of Haryana in accordance with their aspirations. To negate this right of Punjabi communities of Haryana is to question the honour of every Haryanavi. This is neither acceptable nor warranted,” Surjewala said.
‘REORGANISATION ACT EMPOWERS HARYANA’
The state minister said that as per Section 72 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act of 1966, it is the right of Haryana to carve out a separate body for managing its Sikh shrines. The Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925, was a preconstitutional enactment by the Punjab legislative council. PostIndependence, the legislature of the erstwhile joint Punjab amended this state enactment 14 times between 1953 and 1961.
The 1925 act did not apply even to the state of Pepsu prior to its merger with Punjab. It was only after the merger of Pepsu with Punjab that the act was extended to Pepsu area by an amendment. “The analogy is, thus, clear. Haryana, as the successor state of erstwhile joint Punjab is well within its right to constitute a separate body through an act for managing Sikh shrines within its territorial jurisdiction.
What is the justification then for not permitting Sikhs of Haryana to manage their gurdwaras within the territorial jurisdiction of Haryana? To force the diktat of the Amritsarbased Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee over the management of Sikh shrines of Haryana to the exclusion of the community of Haryanais neither morally correct nor legally tenable or constitutionally permissible,” Surjewala wrote.
SAD PLAYING POLITICS OVER RELIGION: CONG
Training guns on Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and Shiromani Akali Dal leaders, Congress minister Randeep Singh Surjewala on Saturday said SAD leaders had been putting unwarranted pressure and playing politics on the issue of self-determination and governance of Haryana-based gurdwaras by Sikhs of the state. Pointing a finger towards Badal and the SAD, the minister said it’s alarming that Badal has drafted his ministerial colleagues, MPs, MLAs, elected members of SGPC and party leaders to travel into Haryana to enter Sikh shrines to prevent the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras Management Committee from taking control. Many such leaders have entered Sikh shrines in Haryana with armed Punjab Police personnel, Surjewala claimed in his letter to the union home minister.