Chandigarh, June 30 :
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) will seek legal opinion on a move by the Haryana government to announce a separate managing committee for gurdwaras (Sikh shrines) in Haryana.
SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar Monday said that a decision to seek legal opinion and oppose the move by the Congress-led government of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was taken at a meeting of senior SGPC leaders here.
Commenting on the move by the Hooda government to set up a separate Sikh body to manage gurdwaras in Haryana, the SGPC president said that this was a violation of the act of parliament under which the SGPC was set up.
Makkar said that the Shiromani Akali Dal, which dominates the cash-rich (Rs.950 crore annual budget) SGPC, will take a decision on how to oppose the Haryana move legally and politically.
Haryana finance minister Harmohinder Singh Chatha, a Sikh from Haryana who headed a state government committee to look into the demand for a separate managing body for gurdwaras in the state, said that the committee had received over 2.5 lakh affidavits seeking a separate body for Haryana.
The Akali Dal Monday warned the Congress against a conspiracy to weaken the SGPC by trying to create a separate Sikh body to take control of gurdwaras in Haryana and accused it of trying to divide Sikhs.
Hooda is likely to make the announcement of a separate gurdwara parbandhak (managing) committee for the state at a scheduled Sikh convention to be held in Kaithal town July 6.
The Haryana government is studying legal and religious provisions for setting up the separate managing body for gurdwaras in the state. If the Hooda government goes ahead with its move, then SGPC will lose control over Sikh shrines in Haryana.
The SGPC, known as the mini-parliament of Sikh religion, manages 72 gurdwaras in Haryana which contribute over Rs.100 million to the SGPC kitty. The SGPC controls the majority of the gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of all Sikh shrines, ‘Harmandar Sahib’ (popularly known as Golden Temple) in Amritsar.
Gurdwaras in Delhi are managed by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).
Leaders of the SGPC and the Akali Dal met Home Minister Rajnath Singh last week to urge the central government to stop the Haryana government from announcing a separate gurdwara body.
A section of Sikh leaders from Haryana led by former SGPC member Jagdish Singh Jhinda has been demanding a separate Sikh body for shrines in Haryana.