SGPC to lose control over 40 gurdwaras in Haryana
Founded under the Sikh Gurdwara Act during colonial rule to manage affairs of the historic gurdwaras of undivided Punjab, the SGPC suffered first loss during Partition in 1947 when half of Punjab went to Pakistan
AMRITSAR: With the Supreme Court (SC) upholding the validity of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Act, 2014, meant for the formation of a separate gurdwara managing committee for Haryana, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is set to see second division since its foundation in 1920. With this, it is not likely to remain as “shiromani” (apex) practically.
Founded under the Sikh Gurdwara Act during colonial rule to manage affairs of the historic gurdwaras of undivided Punjab, the SGPC suffered first loss during Partition in 1947 when half of Punjab went to Pakistan. After Partition, 72 gurdwaras came under the Pakistan territory, said SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami. In 1999, the Pakistan government formed the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) to manage affairs of the Sikh shrines there.
Though Indian Punjab was divided into three states Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh — on the basis of language in 1966, the control of the historic gurdwaras remained with the SGPC. This is for the first time in Independent India that the SGPC is being disintegrated.
Around one-and-half decades ago, SGPC members, including Jagdish Singh Jhinda and Didar Singh Nalwi belonging to Haryana, raised a demand for a separate gurdwara committee for Haryana and also formed ad hoc committee headed by Sikh preacher Baljit Singh Daduwal. Enactment of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Act, 2014, during Congress government in Haryana paved the way for the separate committee.
If a separate committee is formed, the SGPC will lose control over around 40 gurdwaras, including eight historic shrines. These gurdwaras come under Section 85 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, and are main source of revenue for the SGPC
“Over 70% of the revenue that mainly comprises donations is spent on these gurdwaras. Only 30% goes to the SGPC central exchequer. Some institutions such as hospital of Miri Piri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Shahbad Markanda, are run with the support of central fund of the SGPC,” said a SGPC official.
According to Daduwal’s claim, all other institutions run by the SGPC in Haryana will automatically go under the control of Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.
Enact state’s own Gurdwara Act: Sikh bodies
The Sikh bodies under the banner of Panthak Talmel Sangathan, which is headed by former Takht Damdama Sahib jathedar Giani Kewal Singh, wanted the Punjab assembly to enact state’s own Gurdwara Management Act and reorganise the SGPC under this Act in a changed situation.
In a statement, leaders of the Sikh bodies cited that the SGPC has now almost been confined to Punjab only and now there is no use of Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, which was also passed by Punjab Legislative Assembly in 1924.
Welcoming the SC verdict, they said: “With this, Sikhs of Haryana will be able to manage affairs of the gurdwaras according to local needs.” They also blamed the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for disintegration of the SGPC.