Cancel pvt firm's contract or will fast unto death, says ex-SGPC member
Members of the Guru Hargobind Dhadhi Sabha on Saturday threatened to go on fast-unto-death if the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee did not withdraw the contract awarded to a private firm to undertake the construction of Sri Guru Ramdas Langar building in the Golden Temple complex.Updated: Feb 09, 2014 12:50 IST
Members of the Guru Hargobind Dhadhi Sabha on Saturday threatened to go on fast-unto-death if the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) did not withdraw the contract awarded to a private company to undertake the construction of ultra-modern Sri Guru Ramdas Langar building in the Golden Temple complex.
Baldev Singh, head of the Dhadhi Sabha and a former SGPC member, threatened to go on fast-unto-death if the contract was not withdrawn by February 17.
"I will undertake a fast-unto-death after performing 'ardas' (prayers) at the Akal Takht if the SGPC does not withdraw the contract since it violates Sikh principles," Baldev Singh said, while addressing the media after taking part in a seminar at Bhai Gurdas Hall.
The seminar was called to discuss whether private companies which do not follow Sikh codes and principles should be awarded contracts for constructing or repairing buildings within the precincts of gurdwaras.
Former Akal Takht jathedar Ranjit Singh and leaders of different factions of the Sikh Students Federation (SSF) attended the seminar and supported Baldev Singh's views.
Baldev Singh said if the jathedars of five Sikh Takhts declare before the Sikh 'sangat' that the company had not violated the Sikh principles and traditions while undertaking the construction of langar building, then he would withdraw his protest.
The opposition to the contract has come in the wake of the allegations that workers, most of whom come from states outside Punjab, smoke or consume tobacco while undertaking construction work.
He has claimed that people have seen workers smoking or consuming tobacco while working at the 'langar' building.
He said the construction of the building should have been undertaken through 'kar sewa'. In the past, the SGPC has got a number of buildings, including 'serais' in the Golden Temple complex, constructed through 'kar sewa' undertaken by well known religious leaders.
Baldev Singh had undertaken a protest march on the issue on Friday.
It's mere propaganda: SGPC
SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar has termed Baldev Singh's reaction as "mere propaganda". He has cautioned the Sikh community not to be misled by such persons.
"The contract was given to the private firm as certain technicalities were involved which needed some expertise. We were keen that the new 'langar' building is completed quickly since the number of devotees visiting the shrine is on the rise with each passing day," said Makkar.
He pointed out that over the years, a majority of the construction work for the SGPC was done through 'kar sewa'. He maintained that the SGPC staff kept a strict watch over non-Sikh workers engaged in construction or other works inside the shrine.
"They also see to it that their heads are properly covered and they do not consume any intoxicant," he said.
The Punjab government has given Rs 10 crore for the construction and expansion of the existing 'langar' building. It also involves the construction of an eco-friendly modern kitchen. The remaining expenditure is to be borne by the SGPC.
Former SGPC secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta too took exception to private firms being given construction contracts in shrines. "In my time, all such work was undertaken through kar sewa. Those involved in kar sewa often take the opinion of experts while undertaking any project in a shrine. Even I have got reports of workers smoking bidis while working on the langar building."