The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided against taking the legal course to oppose the setting up of a separate gurdwara panel for Haryana.
Confirming this here on Wednesday, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said the religious body had decided to approach the Sikh sangat directly by holding demonstrations at the district level to expose the Congress’ strategy of dividing the Sikh community for petty political gains.
Makkar, who was here to support the SGPC’s ongoing statewide protest against the proposed Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (HSGPC), said Sikh leaders demanding a separate body had disrespected the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs.
Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan had appealed to Haryana Sikh leaders to stay away from any move to form a separate Sikh panel which could cause a rift in the community.
At the executive body meeting held at Chandigarh on June 30, the SGPC had formed a legal panel to find remedies to oppose the formation of the HSGPC.
Sources said the Amritsar-based SGPC had earlier been in touch with several eminent lawyers from the Supreme Court to legally challenge the Haryana government’s plan to establish a Sikh body parallel to the SGPC.
Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, at a Sikh convention held at Patti Afghan village in Kaithal on July 6, had announced to table a Bill in the monsoon assembly session, beginning on July 11, to set up the HSGPC.
Meanwhile, political observers said the SGPC’s decision to drop the legal course may boost the morale of those supporting the separate panel.
“The viewpoint of several persons, particularly that of retired Supreme Court judge justice Kuldip Singh, that the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, has the provision for division of the Amritsar-headquartered SGPC that controls the gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, may have forced the SGPC to take up the issue at the emotional level rather than approaching the courts,” observers said.
Meanwhile, addressing a gathering of Sikhs at Dera Kar Sewa, Makkar rubbished the claims that the annual collection of donation from Haryana shrines was more than `100 crore.
“The SGPC budget is subject to a government audit. Income from Haryana shrines is pegged at Rs. 30 crore annually and nearly Rs. 27 crore are spent on salaries of SGPC staff and other expenses. If proved wrong,
I am ready to face any punishment by the Akal Takht,” he said.Earlier, at a press conference, Makkar took exception to the Haryana government’s claim that the HSGPC was proposed to be formed on the basis of nearly 3 lakh affidavits received by the Chatha Committee.
“Haryana has nearly 20 lakh Sikhs. How could a handful of bogus affidavits build up this case? Moreover, following the SGPC’s appeal, a majority of the Sikhs boycotted the nefarious exercise of the Hooda government,” Makkar said.
Makkar said the Congress government was taking the plea of affidavits collected in 2006-07 for the proposed religious body, whereas in the general House elections of the SGPC held in 2011, all those who favoured the HSGPC had lost.
“Even the latest official mandate of the Sikhs is clear as none of the HSGPC-supporting candidates, including Jagdish Singh Jhinda and Didar Singh Nalwi, are elected representatives of the SGPC,” he claimed.