Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar said on Saturday that the Sikh body would abide by the Akal Takht decision on 'Operation Bluestar' memorial controversy, which arose following a reference made to late Damdami Taksal head Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale at the entrance of the octagonal marble structure in the Golden Temple complex.
Asked to comment on the stand of Shabad Guru Prachar Sant Samaj leader Bhai Ram Singh on the memorial issue, Makkar refused to comment on the observations at a press conference here. "The SGPC and the entire Sikh 'qaum' (community) will abide by the directions of the Akal Takht, which is supreme," he quipped.
Bhai Ram Singh had on Friday said that the memorial was an "incomplete structure" without the names of other associates of Bhindranwale who were killed during the June 1984 army operation in the complex.
Bhai Ram Singh had also maintained that the memorial must contain the entire history of the Sikh 'struggle' starting from the Bhindranwale-Nirankari clash of April 1978. He had however appreciated the SGPC for getting the memorial constructed.
The Sikh clergy had at their meeting on May 15 failed to arrive at a solution to the controversy and sought the viewpoints of all sections of the community.
SGPC to send jatha to Pakistan
After drawning flak from the Sikh community for failing to send a 'jatha' of pilgrims to Pakistan on the occasion of Baisakhi last month, the SGPC has now decided to send a group of devotees across the border for observing the martyrdom day of the fifth Sikh master, Guru Arjan Dev, next month.
The SGPC jatha would leave for Pakistan on June 4 and return on June 13. The martyrdom day of the Guru would be observed at Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore on June 12, as per the Nanakshahi calendar of the SGPC.
Makkar said that the Pakistan high commission had given permission for the 'jatha' to stay in Pakistan from June 4 to 18 since Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) would be observing the martyrdom day on June 16.
"However, we sent out dates to the high commission through the union home ministry. The high commission has given its permission," he added.
Free education for children from baptised families
In a bid to promote Sikhism and discourage youngsters from cutting their hair, SGPC has decided to free education to sons and daughters of baptised Sikhs. This concession would be applicable for children taking admissions in SGPC schools. "Education to such children will be free from Class 1 to 12. However, both boys and girls will be required to follow Sikh religion's tenets while studying in an SGPC school. The boys will not be allowed to trim their beards," Makkar stated.
These students would also be provided free books apart from other concessions.