Monday, November 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



SGPC election: Chief Minister goes overboard

THE situation created by the present Congress government in Punjab is unprecedented. Though I am all praises for the Chief Minister’s anti-corruption crusade, I would not shy away from saying that he had gone overboard in handling the affairs related to the SGPC President’s election. How necessary it was for the CM to send the police inside the holiest Sikh shrine just to further his own political interests? Now that he has already done so, I am afraid the CM is going to lose the support of even the secular-minded Sikh population.

Imagine the damage his decision is going to make in the international arena. Only a few days back, an opinion poll conducted in the UK showed that the Golden Temple, Amritsar, was placed sixth in the list of places Britons wanted most to visit during the coming year; Taj Mahal, Agra, was placed at number nine in the list. I don’t think the results are going to be the same if the poll is conducted again today, all thanks to the Punjab Government.

What was even more disturbing was the order of the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, forcing the pilgrims to vacate the serais adjoining the Golden Temple at 5 in the morning, unmindful of the fact that the majority of pilgrims (around 500) were schoolchildren from different parts of the country. What kind of memories of this tour to the Golden Temple are they going to carry back home?


Even Mr Parkash Singh Badal had been controlling the SGPC by appointing puppet-Presidents in the past, but he never involved/harassed the public at large during these elections. Never before such treatment was meted out to the serai inhabitants, nor did the police ever enter the Golden Temple during these elections.


Against traditions: It is really a sorry state of affair that the SGPC President’s election this year has defamed the whole Sikh community in the eyes of not only Indians but all over the world. Never in the history such a controversy has erupted over a religious seat. I want to ask Mr Badal, Mr Tohra and Mr Amarinder Singh: who is going to pay for this mud-slinging on the Sikhs? Are the Sikh religion and its bodies are the personal property of these people? They call themselves “sevadars” but where is that “humbleness” which is the first thing to be a Sikh. Are these people above the Sikh traditions? I want to ask what was the need for such a huge propaganda in the media etc when only a few elected members were to vote. This may be a win of one faction or the loss of another faction but this is also a big loss of the Sikhs. The timely statement of Mrs Sonia Gandhi restricted the Punjab Government from hijacking the election, otherwise the results would have been different. I appeal to the jathedars to “ex-communicate” these people from the Panth who treat religion for their own selfish ends.

G.S. SAINI, Mohali

Action boomerangs: The sincere effort of Capt Amarinder Singh to contain violence seems to have boomeranged. Even his own colleagues seem to be active to fish in the troubled waters.

Bhim Sain Sacher, the then CM of Punjab in 1957, had to abdicate in favour of Pratap Singh Kairon on the issue of police entry into the Golden Temple complex.

Not only to wash off the blame of police entry into the Golden Temple complex but also to straighten the records of the civic body, the dividing road be made the property of the complex. The precedence of handing over of Chandni Chowk old Kotwali to the management of Gurdwara Sis-Ganj Sahib in Delhi is already there to be followed. There is likelihood of mud-slinging saying that it is the appeasement of the Akalis, but straightening the complicated matters makes history and wins applause from the right thinking lobby.



Display of police power: The naked display of unbridled police power and stooping to the levels (for which many Indian politicians are well known) of street brawlers could not help Capt Amarinder Singh become the Maharaja of the SGPC.

If he has any sense of justice, guilt or remorse (it is too much to expect), he should resign. All the misuse of the police and state machinery could not prevent the re-election of Mr Badungar.

It is very clear that Capt Amarinder Singh was driven by personal animosity towards Mr Badal. He is expected to behave like a Maharaja, but probably he forgot his roots. The saving grace was a call from Sonia to ensure that the feelings of the Sikh community are not hurt. Come on Captain live and let the people live peacefully. Punjab does not have to go through all the troubles again.


Reminiscent of dark days: This has reference to the various news items appearing in the media about repressive measures adopted by the state government against Akali cadres across the state. By unnecessarily meddling in the faction-ridden SGPC election, Capt Amarinder Singh seems to have strayed from the ongoing much-hyped campaign against corruption which was bringing him considerable support and sympathy from the public. In order to oust Badal and company from the control of SGPC, the CM has left the job to his men in khaki, who unleashed a trial of repression on a scale which is reminiscent of dark days of Operation Bluestar. No wonder, he has found a willing ally in Machiavalian Tohra who has been nursing his own grouse against Mr Badal.

S.B. SINGH, Amritsar

Children’s eviction

How could the authorities in Amritsar or the Chief Minister justify the eviction of 50 schoolchildren of Lucknow from a “serai” of the Golden Temple complex?



Q: Expand S.G.P.C.?

A: Shiromani Golak Prabhandak Committee.


Politics of vendetta

REVENGEFUL politics now going on in Punjab seems to have gone rather too far and may spiral out of control if not checked. While everyone appreciates the present government’s crusade against corruption, hounding of political rivals and dirty politics sadly casting shadows once again in the vicinity of the Golden Temple complex are worrisome.

Punjab has already paid a very heavy price to come out of the dark days brought about by the mixing of politics, religion, cunning and deceit. Healthy opposition remains as important as the ruling clan in any democratic process. Hopefully better sense should prevail in Punjab and the history of the gory recent past be not forgotten so soon.

Air Cmde RAGHUBIR SINGH (retd), Pune


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