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Sikh bodies oppose Maharashtra govt’s move to amend Hazur Sahib board Act

The Maharashtra government has proposed to include its six more members into the board by amending the Takht Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Board Nanded Act, 1956.

punjab Updated: Jul 15, 2018 21:52 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Sikh bodies,Maharashtra,Hazur Sahib board Act
Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded.(Courtesy: Facebook)

The Maharashtra government’s move to increase its representation in the management board of Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded, one of the five temporal seats of Sikh faith, has not only irked Sikh bodies, including the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), but resentment also prevails within the board.

The 17-member Takht Hazur Sahib Board consists of four nominated SGPC members, four members from the Sachkhand Hazuri Khalsa Diwan, two Sikh members of Parliament, one from the Chief Khalsa Diwan, three members from the seven districts of Marathwara, a member each from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, besides the Nanded collector.

Now, the Maharashtra government has proposed to include its six more members into the board by amending the Takht Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Board Nanded Act, 1956.

“The state cabinet has approved the amendment, but it is yet to be passed by the assembly,” said Bhupinder Singh Minhas, vice-president of the board, while speaking to HT over phone.

Opposing the move, he said the Maharashtra government was interfering in the working of the board. “Around 10 days ago, Panj Pyaras (five beloved ones of the Guru) passed a resolution against the state government’s move and also wrote to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, asking him not to go ahead with the amendment citing unrest within board and the Sikh community,” he said.

Minhas said they will oppose the government’s move at the board meeting to be held on July 28. “Even if the state government passes the amendment bill, it will not come into force without the Union government’s nod,” he said.

Showing strong resentment over the amendment, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said: “The state government wants to take over the reins of the board. But Sikhs would not let this happen. This is clear interference in the board affairs.”

“By amending the Act, the Maharashtra government is paving the way to elect board’s president with its consent. The board president, Tara Singh, should make the Fadnavis aware of the sentiments of the Sikhs,” said Longowal.

In 2014, Maharashtra Sikhs demanded to amend the Act to increase their representation in the board. To meet this demand, efforts were initiated but at the cost of representation of the SGPC and Chief Khalsa Diwan. A committee headed by retired judge of the Bombay high court justice JS Bhatia has been constituted by the Maharashtra government to recommend amendments. Following this, then Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the move.

The board has also been in controversy over the election of Tara Singh, a BJP MLA, as its president. A section of Sikhs opposed his election alleging that it would increase the influence of RSS in the affairs of Takht.

First Published: Jul 15, 2018 21:35 IST