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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Guru’s 550th birth anniversary: Communication gap between govt, SGPC casts shadow on joint celebration plans

The main function will be held on November 12 at Sultanpur Lodhi where Guru Nanak spent 14 years of his life

chandigarh Updated: Aug 21, 2019 23:28 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar

Communication gap between the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the state government is threatening to derail the plan for joint celebrations to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

The main function will be held on November 12 at Sultanpur Lodhi where Guru Nanak spent 14 years of his life.

A meeting between Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal and Punjab government’s group of ministers comprising Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Charanjit Singh Channi and OP Soni was last held on June 29 at Akal Takht secretariat. Since then, there has been no communication between the SGPC and the government.

“The Punjab government is not serious to hold meeting of the coordination committee for joint celebrations,” said SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal. The joint celebrations can only be a reality if the government sends its representatives for next meeting scheduled for September 16,” said SGPC chief’s personal secretary Sukhminder Singh.

On August 14, a meeting of the joint coordination panel was cancelled as the government failed to send its two representatives. Annoyed at this, Longowal said neither the government suggested the names of its representatives nor sent them to take part in the meeting.

SGPC office-bearers privy to the matter said some ministers in the Capt Amarinder Singh cabinet are reluctant to hold joint celebrations citing that the SGPC is controlled by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

As a delegation of SGPC office-bearers, including Longowal, and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind and invited them for Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary celebrations, the state government is showing no interest in collaborating with the gurdwara body.

Cabinet minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa even wrote a letter to Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh alleging that the SGPC was working in the hands of SAD leaders, which is not acceptable.

After the acting jathedar asked the SGPC to clear the air and suggested a coordination panel for joint celebrations, the SGPC wrote to the state government to send names of its representatives, but in vain.

When contacted, Randhawa said: “At the first meeting, we proposed that the Punjab government will be overseeing the arrangements outside the Sultanpur Lodhi gurdwara and SGPC will be looking after the arrangements inside the premises. How the SGPC says the state government is not communicating with it?”

“If Parkash Singh Badal being a CM can organise the main function on anniversaries in the past and Nitish Kumar in Bihar can hold the main function to mark 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, why should not Captain Amarinder Singh do this? Just because he is a Congress CM?” questioned Randhawa.




First Published: Aug 21, 2019 23:28 IST

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