Tuesday, January 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SGPC to meet PM over Pak jathas
Sikh definition referred to minority panel
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

ALAMGIR (Ludhiana), Jan 15 — The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today decided to meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee before finalising the decision of sending Sikh jathas to Pakistan. It also left the issue of the definition of a “Sikh” to the Minority Commission of India. The SGPC committee also authorised its president, Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, to constitute the Advisory Committee on Religious Affairs.

These decisions were taken at the Executive Committee meeting of the SGPC held in the historic gurdwara here under the chairmanship of Jathedar Talwandi.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Jathedar Talwandi said the SGPC decision of stopping jathas to Pakistan was wrong. He pointed out there were other means of protest.

He disclosed that a meeting of the SGPC office-bearers with the PM had been scheduled for February 2 and 3.

After meeting the PM, a five-member team of the SGPC would visit Pakistan to study the situation. A final decision would be taken only after its return. The SGPC chief clarified that the issue of the management of gurdwara in Pakistan would not be linked with sending of jathas to Pakistan.

Asserting the authority of the SGPC on all Sikh religious matters, he pointed out that the committee had been accepted as the highest Sikh parliament by every Sikh.

Regarding the issue of the definition of a Sikh, the SGPC chief declared it had been referred to the Minority Commission of India. The issue was raised by Jathedar, Akal Takht, Joginder Singh Vedanti and Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, Prof Manjit Singh recently. They had sought an amendment to the definition of a “Sikh”.

Jathedar Talwandi tried to skirt the issue of allegations levelled by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Prof Manjit Singh that the Badal government and the police were patronising drug peddlers. He said since the issue was related to religion, it would be referred to the Religious Advisory Committee.

The SGPC president expressed ignorance about the stopping of the publication of a book Gur Bilas Patshahi 6, edited by Jathedar Vedanti and Dr Amarjit Singh, by the SGPC.

On the opposition by Jathedar Vedanti, Prof Manjit Singh and Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, Giani Kewal Singh, to Jathedar Talwandi for appointing Giani Puran Singh as Head Granthi of the Golden Temple, he (Mr Talwandi) said he had no knowledge of such opposition and had learnt about it from the media.

The SGPC endorsed the Punjab Government’s decision to depute the Minister for Urban Development, Dr Upinderjeet Kaur, to constitute the Management Board of Gurdwara Hazoor Sahib in Nanded, Maharashtra.

Besides Jathedar Talwandi, general secretary Kiranjyot Kaur, senior vice-president Balbir Singh Pannu and vice-president Kewal Singh Badal, all executive members, including Mr Harbans Singh Malpur and Mr Omkar Singh owing allegiance to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Baldev Singh Shahajhan owing allegiance to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, attended the meeting which went on smoothly.

UNI adds: On the controversial issue of the participation of the Golden Temple Head Granthi, Giani Puran Singh, in the meeting of Sikh high priests, the SGPC executive said the Head Granthi had the right to attend such meetings but it was for him to decide whether to attend them or not. She said in case Giani Puran Singh decided against attending the meetings of the Sikh clergy, the Akal Takht Jathedar could invite any other Granthi he deemed fit to attend the meeting.

Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti had earlier stated that it was mandatory for the Golden Temple Head Granthi to attend such meeting to fulfil the quorum of five priests and no other granthi could become his proxy and the issue has been hanging fire since.

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