The removal of the All-India Pingalwara Society’s stall by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) from the Golden Temple Plaza has evoked sharp criticism from the society and its chairperson Bibi Inderjeet Kaur, who protested the move by holding a sit-in where the stall stood.
The makeshift stall had books on religion, education, environment, health and other subjects. Some of these were authored by Bhagat Puran Singh, the founder of the Pingalwara, a home for the destitute and homeless.
It stood at one end of the Plaza near the “jora ghar” to the left of the Ghanta Ghar entrance to the Golden Temple. The space was allotted by the SGPC while the Plaza was under construction.
Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal had ordered the removal of the Pingalwara stall and another book stall which was being managed by the SGPC when he had come to pay obeisance at the shrine on Tuesday.
He had directed the SGPC to remove the stalls as these were “spoiling the beauty of the shrine”. After removing its stall, the SGPC gave the society two days to dismantle its kiosk. However, when nothing was done, members of the task force pulled it down.
Inderjeet Kaur not only took exception to the removal of the stall but also accused the SGPC of showing disrespect to Bhagat Puran Singh. She alleged that some of the books, even those which were religious in nature, were thrown out of the stall in a disrespectful manner.
She said the stall was set up by Bhagat Puran Singh and he would sit outside the Ghanta Ghar entrance with a pile of books around him.
“Perhaps, if Bhagatji had been alive, they would have thrown him out too on similar grounds of being an eyesore to the shrine,” she added.
Inderjeet has sent a fax message to CM Parkash Singh Badal showing her displeasure at the SGPC’s action. She said the stall should be restored at the site.
SGPC DENIES CHARGES
Golden Temple manager Partap Singh, who was instrumental in removing the stall, denied having used force. “We showed due respect and pulled down the stall as it was too heavy to lift. We did not throw away even a single book kept at the stall,” he said. He said that the stall was removed as it was marring the beauty of the shrine.