Villagers at Marhana village, situated 10km from here, continued their protest on Friday against handing over the control of Gurdwara Rathike Sahib to Baba Sukha Singh Kar Sewa Sarhali, a religious organisation with considerable sway in the district, which manages various gurdwaras and educational institutes.
Things have come to such a pass that the administration imposed section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) for prohibition of unlawful assembly in the village.
The situation in the village has remained tense from December 8 as hundreds of villagers gathered in the gurdwara on Friday and refused to bow down before the decision of the management committee of the gurdwara. The move to transfer control has deeply angered the villagers who said it was unjust to hand over the gurdwara to an outsider, as the village had donated a large chunk of land to the gurdwara, measuring around 25 acres.
Senior police officials are keeping an eye on the village to ward off any untoward situation. Around 200 villagers and devotees continued the dharna at the premises of the gurdwara, dedicated to the late Baba Ratan Dev.
The villagers told HT that around eight months ago, they had constituted a management committee to manage the affairs of the gurdwara.
“However, the committee did not turn out to be an equitable body dedicated to the service of the community as many of its members were backed by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and Punjab food supply minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon. Going against the will of the villagers, the committee handed over the control of the gurdwara to Baba Sukha Singh’s Kar Sewa organisation,” the villagers said.
A villager, Manavjot Singh, said, “The entire village is on one side and a few committee members backed by a SAD minister are on other side.”
“The gurdwara and its land measuring 25 acres belongs to the village and the villagers will not allow any outside organisation to take over its control. The villagers want justice in this case. Things would worsen if justice does not happen, for which the administration will be responsible,” he added.
Patti deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Davinder Singh Bhatti, Sarhali Kalan station house officer (SHO) Gurwinder Singh, Patti SHO Rajwinder Singh and other police officials visited the village to review the situation. They tried to convince both sides to make a compromise and bury the hatchet but the villagers remained firm on their demand of wresting back the control of the gurdwara from Baba Sukha Singh Sarhali.
The DSP said negotiations were in progress and a solution of the issue would be found soon.