The on-going tussle between Amritsar-based SGPC and its newly created parallel body over control of Sikh shrines in Haryana turned violent today when members of HSGMC "forcibly" tried to take control of a gurudwara in Kurukshetra and clashed with police leaving several people injured.
Clashes erupted outside 'Chhevin Patshahi', one of the biggest gurudwaras in Haryana, when members of Haryana Sikh Gurudwara Management Committeee (HSGMC) "forcibly" tried to enter the Sikh shrine and were stopped by police, Kurukshetra Superintendent of Police (SP) Ashwin Shenvi said.
Police used water canons, lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to cane charge to disperse the agitated members.
The members owing allegiance to HSGMC brandishing naked swords and lathis threw stones towards the shrine where the Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) members were keeping watch. Some of the stones hit the policemen who acted as a buffer between the two rival groups.
Police fired water canons to stop the marching HSGMC members to avoid a direct contact between the two rival groups. Policemen deployed at the barricades used force to check the movement of the marchers towards the shrine.
Shenvi said five police personnel were injured in the violence while the HSGMC claimed 65 of its members received injuries, five of them serious.
HSGMC President Jagdish Singh Jhinda said police used force in which 65 people owing allegiance to the newly constituted body were injured.
He said some 30 of them, including some media personnel, were taken to a civil hospital at Kurukshetra for medical attention.
Shenvi said police personnel were targeted by HSGMC members after they were stopped from marching towards the gurudwara breaking the barricades. The members pelted stones at security personnel and also indulged in a scuffle, he said.
HSGMC Vice President Didar Singh Nalwi said the situation became tense when some 400 people owing allegiance to Amritsar-based SGPC reached the gurdwara today from different parts of Punjab.
Nalwi said their protests at Kurukshetra will continue in a "peaceful manner" and that the Sikhs in Haryana will "not compromise" on the formation of HSGMC. He said some 40 vehicles parked adjacent to Kurukshetra gurdwara and Theme Park near it were damaged in the violence.
In a related development, members of the HSGMC took control of a historic Navin Patshahi Gurudwara at Guhla Cheeka in adjoining Kaithal district and Jheevan Heri Gurudwara at Yamunanagar, Jhinda said.
Jhinda said the SGPC personnel left the two gurudwaras without any resistance. "The HSGMC took control over the two gurudwaras in a peaceful manner," he said.
There are some 25 big Sikh shrines in Haryana whose annual earnings through donations are to the tune of Rs 30 crore.
He said that SGPC task force personnel camped inside the gurdwara at Kurukshetra made "provocative speeches".
"When the people from Amritsar-based SGPC were entering into the gurdwara, some persons started pelting stones. Suddenly police used force on HSGMC members who ran for cover," Nalwi said, adding that some of HSGMC members were injured in the clash.
Members of HSGMC staging a sit in close to the Kurukshetra gurdwara on sensing that more people from Punjab are reaching at the shrine got into an argument with them, Nalwi said adding that in the meantime some started pelting stones following which police used force to disperse them.
The situation is tense, but under control, the SP said adding that a heavy police deployment had been made to check law and order around the Sikh shrine.