Bibi Jagir Kaur elected Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief
Former Punjab minister and Bholath MLA Bibi Jagir Kaur was on Friday elected the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president at the annual general house meeting at Teja Singh Samundari Hall, the headquarters of the apex gurdwara body, in Amritsar.
She replaces Gobind Singh Longowal, who remained the SGPC chief for three years.
Jagir Kaur is a former SGPC chief too and had become the first woman to be elected to the post in March 1999. She held the post till November 2000. During her second tenure, she was SGPC president from September 2004 to November 2005.
A day after SGPC members owing allegiance to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which has a majority in the SGPC general house, authorised its president Sukhbir Singh Badal to choose the name of the president, other office-bearers and 11 members of the executive committee, the annual poll session was held on Friday and attended by 143 members.
Disclosing the choice of Sukhbir, former SGPC acting president Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke proposed Jagir Kaur’s name for the top post. Opposition members proposed the name of Mithu Singh Kahne Ke as their candidate.
Jagir Kaur got 122 of the 143 votes and was declared elected.
COURTED CONTROVERSY AFTER DAUGHTER’S DEATH
During her first tenure, Jagir Kar was forced to quit after she was accused of murdering her daughter, Harpreet Kaur, in 2000 but she was acquitted by the Punjab and Haryana high court in this case last year. The acquittal paved the way for her holding the post for the third time.
On assuming charge in 2004, she was embroiled in a controversy again as she supported women’s demand to conduct kirtan (prayers) inside the sanctum sanctorum of Golden Temple.
FROM MATH TEACHER TO BHOLATH MLA
Born on October 15, 1954, at Bhatnura Lubana village in Jalandhar district, Jagir Kaur is known as an aggressive leader of the Akali Dal. She graduated in arts in 1977 and did B.Ed. the next year. She worked as a mathematics teacher in a government school for 11 years.
In 1980, she married Charanjit Singh, the son of Harnam Singh, the head of Dera Sant Baba Prem Singh Murale Wale at Begowal in Kapurthala district. The couple had two daughters, Harpreet Kaur and Ranjeet Kaur. Her husband died in 1983. After her husband’s death, she took over the responsibility of the head of the dera in 1987.
Being the dera head, she held considerable sway in Bholath assembly segment that is known as a stronghold of the Lubana Sikh community. She formally joined the Shiromani Akali Dal in 1995 and was elected as an SGPC member in 1996.
GURDWARA MANAGEMENT AND SOCIAL WELFARE
The SGPC is responsible for the management of historic gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. Besides, it runs educational, medical, religious and human welfare institutions.
Of the 191 members in its general house, 170 are elected by adult Sikhs after five years through ballot papers. At the same time, 15 Sikhs are nominated as co-opted members for the house.
Five Takht heads and the Golden Temple head granthi are also present at the general house meetings but have no right to vote.
The general house assembles at Teja Singh Samundari Hall every year to select its president, senior vice-president, junior vice-president, general secretary and 11 members of the executive committee either unanimously or by voting.