SGPC admits 267 ‘saroops’ missing, denies they perished in 2016 fireUpdated: Jun 27, 2020, 21:30 IST
COUNTERCHARGE Gurdwara body officials say allegations of ex-employee through a rights body is a ploy to save his own skin as he is an accused in the case
AMRITSAR A day after Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) accused Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) of keeping under wraps the matter of damage to Guru Granth Sahib’s ‘saroops’ in fire at its publishing house, the management body on Saturday refuted the charges, but admitted that 267 ‘saroops’ are missing and a probe is already underway.
Before presenting their side on the matter, SGPC senior vice-president Rajinder Singh Mehta, chief secretary Roop Singh, secretary Manjit Singh, additional secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhoora held a meeting at Teja Singh Samundari Hall here.
Terming the accusations as “misleading” and “condemnable”, the SGPC functionaries said the rights body has maliciously attempted to create a new controversy within the community. “Actually, Kanwaljit Singh, former employee of the SGPC’s publication department, who is an accused in the missing ‘saroops’ case, is making this matter complex to get off the hook,” said Mehta.
“On his superannuation day on May 31 this year, Kanwaljit while handing over the charge confessed that the publishing house is short of 267 ‘saroops’, and the SGPC is probing it. He accepted in writing to pay the fine for the same. Now, he is tarnishing the image of the gurdwara body to save his skin by linking it with the 2016 fire incident and giving it a political colour.”
On the PHRO, Mehta said, “It should have come to the gurdwara body before levelling these allegations publicly. This is not the jurisdiction of this organisation.”
He said only five ‘saroops’ were destroyed in the 2016 fire after a short circuit and nine ‘saroops’ got damaged due to water in the fire-control operation. “The incident was also reported by the media then. Now, it is being given the colour that the SGPC deliberately hid this incident. This is a deep-rooted conspiracy. The allegations are politically motivated and baseless,” he said.
“The ‘saroops’ that were damaged were taken to Goindwal Sahib for cremation. Care of rest of the ‘saroops’ is the responsibility of the publication department.”
‘SGPC officials forced me to sign affidavit’
Ex-employee of the publication department Kanwaljit Singh said the confessional affidavit was forcibly taken from him by senior SGPC officials on the day of his retirement. “On the day of my retirement, senior SGPC officials called me in a room and tortured me. They forced me to sign the document,” he said.
Meanwhile, the then chief secretary, Harcharan Singh, who visited the spot after the fire incident as per the version of the SGPC, said, “I had paid a brief visit to the spot. I do not remember the count of ‘saroops’ damaged but one thing I remember is that some ‘saroops’ are repairable. A sub-committee was constituted then to probe the matter.”
The sub-committee comprised the then senior vice-president Raghujit Singh Virk, junior vice-president Kewal Singh Badal, general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, executive member Rajinder Singh Mehta, secretary Roop Singh and additional secretary Balwinder Singh Jaurasingha.