Chandigarh, July 27 : Expressing satisfaction over opposing groups calling off their conventions over the issue of Haryana creating a new board for Sikh shrines, the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhism, Sunday directed status quo be maintained in management of gurdwaras in Haryana till the matter gets resolved. Akal Takht Jathedar (chief) Gurbachan Singh said that the management of Sikh shrines in Haryana should be allowed to continue as at present till the controversy over Haryana’s separate board was resolved.
The Akal Takht also directed all sides not to make any statements over the issue till the matter is sorted out. It said Saturday that all conventions of Sikhs called by various groups on the Haryana Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC) controversy be called off. Punjab’s ruling Akali Dal called off its Amritsar Sikh convention, slated to be held Sunday, following the Akal Takht directive. The ad hoc HSGPC in Haryana too called off its Sikh convention in Karnal (Haryana) called Monday (July 28). A third convention called by the radical Akali Dal (Amritsar) was also called off.
However, radical Sikh group Dal Khalsa Sunday asked the Akal Takht chief to withdraw the edict issued by him to the HSGPC. Terming it as an “unprincipled edict”, Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said the Akal Takht would first have to withdraw its edict excommunicating three senior Sikh leaders of Haryana. The Akal Takht was entitled to issue directions to them only after withdrawing the edict, he said.
“By directing the Akali Dal to call off their conclave, Giani Gurbachan Singh has provided them an escape route. It is strange and ironic that the jathedar is issuing directions to the HSGPC leaders whom he had himself excommunicated from the Sikh Panth a few days back,” Kanwar Pal Singh said in a statement.
The Dal Khalsa leader accused the Akal Takht chief of being partisan in the whole issue and bowing to the diktats of the Akali Dal led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. “Badals have been exploiting the Sikh sentiments and made the jathedar their subservient. We all know that Badals have scant respect for Akal Takht, its principles, tenets and traditions,” he alleged.
Despite the opposition from the Akali Dal and the Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the newly set up ad hoc HSGPC committee Saturday elected Sikh leader from Haryana Jagdish Singh Jhinda as its first president. The committee also elected Didar Singh Nalvi as the senior vice president.
Both Sikh leaders were recently excommunicated from the Sikh community by the Akal Takht for supporting the creation of the HSGPC. The Akali Dal and the SGPC are locked in a bitter controversy with the Haryana’s Bhupinder Singh Hooda government over the creation of the HSGPC, both having strongly opposed it. The Haryana assembly June 11 passed a bill under which a new committee would be set up to manage gurdwaras in Haryana. 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 has managed gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, will lose control over 72 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.