Chandigarh, June 29 :
With the Haryana government giving indications of announcing a separate body to manage Sikh shrines in the state, a showdown with the SGPC and Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal is likely next week.
Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is likely to make the announcement of a separate gurdwara parbandhak (managing) committee for Haryana at a Sikh convention in Kaithal town July 6.
The Haryana government is studying the legal and religious provisions for setting up the separate body.
If the Hooda government goes ahead with its move, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), with an annual budget of over Rs.950 crore, will lose control over Sikh shrines in Haryana.
The SGPC, known as a miniparliament of Sikh religion, manages the 72 gurdwaras in Haryana.
The SGPC also controls a majority of gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of Sikh shrines Harmandir Sahib (popularly known as Golden Temple) in Amritsar, as well as Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee manages gurdwaras in the national capital.
Describing the step for a separate managing body for gurdwaras as a “sinister move” by the Congress government in Haryana, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal warned that the plan to divide Sikhs in Haryana will not be tolerated.
“All those people who were supporting this sinister move of the Congress-led Haryana government to constitute a separate body for gurdwara management in the state were totally unaware about the Gurdwara Act passed by the Indian parliament,” he said.
“Even the Sikhs of Haryana are against this politically motivated move of the Haryana government,” Badal said.
He slammed former Punjab chief minister and Amritsar MP Amarinder Singh for supporting the formation of a separate gurdwara committee for Haryana.
Criticising Hooda, Badal said the Akali Dal would oppose the move tooth and nail.
“The Congress has always adopted an anti-Sikh stance and the fresh move of the Congress government in Haryana has proved it,” Badal said.
“By constituting a separate committee in Haryana, the Congress is playing with fire as the Sikhs will not tolerate its interference in their religious matters,” Badal said.
Leaders of the SGPC and the Akali Dal met union Home Minister Rajnath Singh last week to urge the central government to stop the Haryana government from announcing a separate gurdwara body.
Meanwhile, a section of Sikh leaders from Haryana, led by former SGPC member Jagdish Singh Jhinda, has been demanding a separate Sikh body for Haryana’s shrines.
The Haryana gurdwaras contribute over Rs.100 million to the SGPC coffers annually.
The Hooda government had set up a committee seven years ago to see if a separate Sikh body was feasible for the state.