Friday, July 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PSGPC ‘must be on summit agenda’
Badal to meet PM on July 9
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 5
The Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will urge the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to take up the issue of the dissolution of Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) and the starting of the Amritsar-Lahore bus service during his meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

The issue of increased economic relations, relaxed border, removal of cumbersome procedure on both sides for tourists visiting the two countries will also figure in the discussions between Mr Badal and Mr Vajpayee.

The Union Minister and Akali Dal General Secretary, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, told The Tribune that the Punjab Chief Minister would impress upon Mr Vajpayee to persuade President Musharraf to dismantle the PSGPC and the starting of a bus service between Amritsar and Lahore.

The success of the Delhi-Lahore bus service and passenger profile of the bus indicated that most of the travellers were from Punjab.

The Union Minister said if the bus service was started from Amritsar it would be quite popular among the people of Punjab and reduce their time in getting to Delhi to board the bus for Lahore.

Mr Badal will be in the Capital tomorrow to attend the Maharaja Ranjit Singh bicentenary celebrations committee meeting. He will meet the Prime Minister and Union Ministers during his stay in Delhi.

The dissolution of PSGPC will also be raised by Mr Badal during the all-party meeting called by the Prime Minister on July 9, the Akali Dal leader said.

“The SGPC has been the traditional controller of historical Sikh shrines both in India and abroad, and Pakistan should respect SGPC’s religious authority,” Mr Dhindsa said.

The Pakistan Government decided to establish the PSGPC on April 14, 1999. This resulted in the SGPC, the highest decision-making religious body, being outstripped of its control of the historic Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

The birth place of Guru Nanak, Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on the banks of the Ravi are the holy shrines of Sikhs.

The visit of Sikh jathas to the shrines in Pakistan was banned by the former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur. However, the present SGPC head, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi has allowed the resumption of Sikh jathas to Pakistan.

Apart from the PSGPC and the bus service, other issues which will be taken by the Punjab Chief Minister include the relaxation of the border along the state as many families have relatives on both sides of the border, increased trade between the two neighbours.

Increased people-to-people contact will result in mutual trust and end the five-decade old animosity between the two countries, he said.

The Union Minister said the issue of increased vigil along the border, although the entire sector was fenced, would also figure during Mr Badal’s talks with the Prime Minister.

Increased vigil will help the state in checking infiltration and prevent the re-emergence of separatist movement in the state.


Take up Nankana Sahib issue: Sikhs

New Delhi, July 5
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) today demanded that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee take up with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf the issue of declaring Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev, a holy city on the line of the Vatican.

In a memorandum to Mr Vajpayee by DSGMC member Jathedar Kuldip Singh Bhogal said: “The Sikh community solicits your kind intervention in this matter of grave concern.”

Christians, Muslims and Jews have their own holy cities where people of the respective faiths go for salvation, but the Sikhs have “nothing” of the sort as “due to partition of India, the holy city of Nankana Sahib became a part of Pakistan’s territory,” the memorandum said.

While people of these important religions of the world have free access to the holy cities of their faith, Pakistan allows Sikh pilgrims to Nankana Sahib and Hasan Abdal, also linked to Guru Nank Dev, only twice a year — at the birth anniversary of the founder of the Panth and Baisakhi festival, it said.

Though the Sikhs during the past 50 years had been demanding from successive governments to take up with Pakistan the issue of declaring Nankana Sahib a holy city and allow pilgrims visit the place round the year, the memorandum said “no sincerity has been shown in safeguarding their religious sentiments.”

“As your government has always been sympathetic to the Sikhs, the community will be indebted to you if you are able to use your good office to resolve the issue with Pakistan and obtain freedom to Sikh clergy to exclusively manage the affairs of Nankana Sahib,” the DSGMC told Mr Vajpayee. PTI

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