Sukhbir Singh Badal accuses Congress of dividing Sikhs

Chandigarh, July 21 : Punjab Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday accused the Congress of dividing the Sikh community by creating a separate body to oversee their Gurdwaras in Haryana. The Haryana Government on July 11 passed a bill in the state assembly to create an independent committee, Haryana Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC) to monitor Sikh Gurdwaras in the state.

The Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014 got the assent of the Haryana governor on Monday (July 14). The decision came despite opposition from Badal who had earlier appealed the government to intervene in the matter. The bill, introduced on the first day of the monsoon session of Haryana legislature, was opposed by Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and BJP. After a meeting with leaders of regional Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Chandigarh, Badal said the Congress is attacking the Sikh community. “This is a major attack on the Sikh community by the Congress. We will defend and the Sikhs will be placed secure at any cost,” said Badal.

Slamming the Congress government in Haryana, Badal said Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, had no right to order the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to interfere with this act, which will set up a distinct body to monitor the issues of Gurdwaras in the state. “First of all, wherever in the world any Sikh issue comes up, whether it is a turban issue in France or anything else, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee’s responsibility is to defend the interest of the Sikhs. So Haryana, being a part of SGPC, the Haryana government has no right to tell us or the SGPC not to interfere. Haryana government, themselves, is interfering in the Sikh community affairs, which they are not supposed to do,” added Badal.

Reportedly, after the SAD leaders met Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, a letter was shot off to the Haryana government seeking withdrawal of the governor’s assent to the controversial bill, which was out rightly rejected by Hooda. A SAD legislator, Daljit Singh Cheema, said because of such an unconstitutional blunder committed by the Haryana government, immediate action must be taken against them by the federal government. “Everybody knows they have committed a constitutional blunder. As per the Reorganisation Act, 1966 and as per Section 72 of the act, they have no power to legislate and to form a separate Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. So, that is why, the union home ministry has taken such a strong step that they have written a letter.

We want that the union home ministry should take strict action against the Haryana government,” said Cheema. The Amritsar-based SGPC, the mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs, which controls gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, will lose control over 72 gurdwaras in Haryana with the new law in the state.