SGPC Row: Stand-Off Continues Over Control of Sikh Shrines

Amid the stand-off over control of Sikh shrines, warring factions of Sikh Gurudwara Management Committees from Haryana and Punjab refused to budge from their positions at a Gurudwara in Kurukshetra for the third day today.

While workers owing allegiance to Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) remained closeted in 'Chhevin Patshahi' Sikh shrine at Kurukshetra, several members of newly-formed Haryana Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (HSGMC) led by its leaders Jagdish Singh Jhinda and Didar Singh Nalwi remained squatted on the road close to the Gurudwara.

However, police said that the situation is under control as both the factions have assured of not indulging in any kind of violence.

HSGMC Vice President Didar Singh Nalwi told PTI over phone that their sit-in will remain "peaceful" and at no cost they will resort to violence.

"We will continue to build religious pressure on Amritsar-based SGPC," he said.

Nalwi said the Amritsar-based SGPC workers sitting inside the Gurudwara are "intruders". "They are intruders. Now they have started feeling alienated and will vacate the Gurudwara themselves," he said.

Meanwhile, official sources here said that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has rushed to New Delhi today to discuss the SGPC row with the Centre.

Nalwi said that "the move of Amritsar-based SGPC will cost him (Badal) dear and damage him religiously and politically in near future."

Asked whether HSGMC members will try to stop supply of essential materials to the Gurudwara, Nalwi said, "It is up to the Haryana government what it decides on such issue."

Meanwhile, a posse of police remained deployed in the area to prevent any untoward incident. The vehicular traffic near the shrine also remained diverted, police said.

Yesterday, a delegation of SAD (Badal) comprising Amritsar-based SGPC President Avtar Singh Makkar, SAD Secretary General Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, SAD leaders Prem Singh Chandumajra and Daljit Singh Cheema had met Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, demanding "immediate review of the unconstitutional Act passed by the Haryana Assembly against Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925."

"We apprised the Governor that by enacting this Act the Haryana Assembly has engrossed upon the area of SGPC which has been declared as an inter-state body corporate as per the Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966," Cheema had said.

Activists owing allegiance to HSGMC remained adamant on taking control over the shrines in Haryana from the Amritsar-based SGPC, the apex religious body of the Sikhs.

The Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs, which had earlier ordered to maintain status quo, had appealed for peace.

The SGPC row has been escalating after Haryana formed its separate committee last month, yielding to the long-standing demand of the Haryana Sikhs.

The Congress had promised in its poll manifesto a separate committee for the State's Sikhs in 2005.

Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC), set up to manage the affairs of the Gurdwaras in the state, is working "peacefully and in the spirit of brotherhood".

"Sikhs of Haryana had been given their right. The HSGMC has been constituted within the framework of the provisions contained in the States Reorganisation Act under which Haryana was carved out of Punjab as a separate state in 1966," he said at Sirsa.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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