Saturday, March 31, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SGPC for Pak corridor to Sikh shrine
Rs 181 crore budget passed
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 30
The general house session of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, while passing the Rs 181 crore annual budget with voice vote, today recommended to the Central Government to issue a notification on changing the definition of “Sikh voter” as per the Sikh “maryada”.

The house unanimously elected Alwinder Singh Pakhoke Senior Vice-President of the SGPC in place of Mr Balbir Singh Pannu who died in a road accident in Uttar Pradesh.

In an important resolution, the SGPC general house sought the construction of a corridor between Wagah and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan built in the memory of Guru Nanak Dev by the Central Government. The government of Pakistan had offered to permit Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib without any passport.

In yet another significant resolution, the SGPC general house demanded according of ‘Vatican city” status to Amritsar. The general house, welcoming the condemning of Operation Bluestar on the floor of the Punjab Assembly, demanded that such a resolution be also passed in the Lok Sabha.

Another resolution condemned the alleged atrocities on Sikhs in various parts of the country. The SGPC condemned the “pitiable” condition of Sikh shrines in Pakistan and decided to spare a sufficient amount for their renovation after taking up the issue with both governments.

It also sought permission to undertake the ‘kar sewa’ (voluntary service) of dilapidated gurdwara buildings in Pakistan.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former President of the SGPC, addressing the general house, alleged that Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi was settling old scores with her. In doing so, he (Mr Talwandi) may cause damage to the ‘Sikh Panth’.

Taking serious note of the stopping of grants to schools and other institutions released during her tenure, Bibi Jagir Kaur sought that the matter be reviewed. Her speech was greeted with the ‘Bole so nihal’ slogan. However, Mr Talwandi denied he had ever tried to settle old scores with her.

Earlier, some members urged Mr Talwandi to release the amounts to the educational institutes. On this, Mr Talwandi said he had been acting at the behest of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, the SGPC executive and the general house. “It was Mr Badal who asked me to open public schools in place of colleges for the welfare of the new generation,” Mr Talwandi explained.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, a former acting President of the SGPC and senior leader of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, condemned the ruling party for having failed to complete various inquiries pending for the past about two years. He alleged inquiry reports were not being submitted at the behest of senior leaders of the ruling party.

The SGPC had failed to complete the inquiry against Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, and Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Damdama Sahib, so far. Mr Bhaur alleged the inquiry against SGPC secretary Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan and those on issuance of ‘blank cheques’ by senior officials of the SGPC had not been completed so far.

Many members alleged that some SGPC members were not leading their lives as per the “Sikh maryada”. Mr Bhaur pointed out that one of the high priests had stated that some SGPC members and their family members were violating the ‘maryada’. One of the senior members alleged that there were some members in the house who dyed their beards, which was against the ‘Sikh maryada’.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (Amritsar), welcomed the amendment in the definition of “Sikh voter”, which will defranchise “non-Sikhs”. He, however, said the general house must lay down more conditions for becoming an SGPC member so that “true and dedicated” Sikhs entered the ‘mini parliament’ of the Sikhs.

On sending jathas to Pakistan, Mr Mann said the SGPC must appreciate Pakistan for the formation of the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. Pakistan was the first Muslim country which had formed a committee for managing Sikh shrines. He said as per the Gurdwara Act, 1925, the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, called the first meeting of the house, “Suppose the Deputy Commissioner happens to be a Muslim, can we afford to boycott him”, he asked. Mr Mann said the PGPC should not be condemned on the ground that it was headed by a Muslim. He also sought amendment in the Hindu Marriage Act and the Hindu Code Bill which covered the Sikhs.

The general house unanimously passed the amendment in the definition of “Sikh voter”. Earlier, a Sikh “sangat” from Jalandhar held a procession opposing any amendment in the definition of “Sikh”.


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