HSGPC row: Warring Sikh groups agree on panel to resolve issue

Chandigarh (IANS): Senior leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on one side and the newly-created Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC) Monday evening agreed to set up a panel to look into all aspects of control of Haryana gurdwaras to resolve the issue.

The meeting between both sides, held in Haryana’s Jagadhari town, 100 km from here, came even as the siege by HSGPC leaders for the gurdwara in Kurukshetra town continued for the third day Monday.

“After prolonged discussion over the issue, it was unanimously resolved that a committee comprising of five Skh intellectuals should be constituted which will deliberate on the issues in detail and suggest the solution keeping in view direction of the Shri Akali Takht Sahib,” a spokesman of the Akali Dal said here.

“The president of the SGPC, being the head of the apex body for the management of sikh shrines, was unanimously authorized to nominate the members of the committee,” the spokesman said.

“After the cancellation of the Panthic convention on the order of Jathedar Shri Akali Takht Sahib, a first meeting to sort out the issue between both the faction was held today at Jagadhari,” he said.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar, Akali Dal secretary general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, general secretaries Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Prem Singh Chandumajra and party secretary and spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema were present in the meeting along with former Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Commitee’s former presidents Parmjit Singh Sarna and Harwinder Singh Sarna, HSGPC members Bhupinder Singh Asandh, Joga Singh, Harpal Singh Pali and Sikh scholar Prithipal Singh Kapoor.

The Akal Takht had, last week, intervened in the stand-off between both sides and indicated that it wanted to resolve the issue of management of Sikh shrines in Haryana.

Members of the newly-constituted HSGPC continued their siege of Kurukshetra’s Gurdwara Chatti Patshahi on the third day of their bid to take over the Sikh shrine.

Punjab’s ruling Akali Dal and the SGPC are locked in a bitter controversy with Haryana’s Bhupinder Singh Hooda government over the creation of the HSGPC.

On June 11, the Haryana assembly had passed a bill under which a new committee would be set up to manage gurdwaras in the state. The Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014, got the assent of the state governor June 14.

The SGPC, the mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs, which controls gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, will lose control over gurdwaras in Haryana with the new law.

The SGPC, which has a Rs.950 crore annual budget, controls majority of the gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of all Sikh shrines ‘Harmandar Sahib’ (popularly known as Golden Temple) in Amritsar.