Chandigarh, July 26 :
The Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion, Saturday directed that all conventions of Sikhs called by various groups on the controversy over the creation of the Haryana Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC) be called off.
Akal Takht Jathedar (chief) Gurbachan Singh said that as per the order all Sikh conventions called on Sunday and Monday should be cancelled.
The conventions were called by the Shiromani Akali Dal in Amritsar and Haryana Sikh leaders in Karnal (Haryana). Both sides are locked in a bitter stand-off over the creation of the HSGPC .
“All Sikhs are concerned today. Whatever happened in Saharanpur today has increased our concern. The Sikh quam (community) is facing a new challenge today. In this situation, I order all groups to call off their conventions in Amritsar (Punjab) and Karnal (Haryana),” Gurbachan Singh announced in Amritsar, 250 km from here.
He said that the Akal Takht will call a meeting of Sikh high priests and senior Sikh leaders later to resolve the issue (over the creation of the HSGPC in Haryana).
Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, which had called for a World Sikh convention in Amritsar’s Golden Temple complex Sunday (July 27) immediately announced that in view of the Akal Takht directive, Sunday’s Sikh convention stood cancelled.
“We have called off the Sikh convention to be held tomorrow (Sunday). We have taken this step in the interest of the Sikh community following the Akal Takht’s directive. We are informing the Sikh leaders about this,” Punjab education minister and Akali Dal spokesman Deljeej Singh Cheema said.
The second convention was called by the Sikh leaders of Haryana Monday (July 28) in Karnal. These leaders are supporting the creation of the HSGPC.
The Akali Dal and the Amritsar-based Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) are locked in a bitter controversy with the Congress government in Haryana over the creation of the HSGPC. They have both strongly opposed the creation of the new HSGPC for Haryana Sikh shrines.
The Haryana assembly had June 11 passed a bill under which a new committee would be set up to manage gurdwaras (Sikh shrines) in Haryana. The Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014, got the assent of the Haryana 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 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.
Badal has warned of an agitation over the issue and said that this could disturb peace in the region.