Monday, November 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

‘Maryada’ violation shocks pilgrims
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Nankana Sahib, November 24
Even as the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) has undertaken renovation of historical gurdwaras at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore within a short span of three years of its existence, a common devotee is disillusioned to see utter violation of ‘maryada’ (Sikh tradition) within the gurdwara premises.

It is shocking to see a shoe stall, a temporary cloth shop or a ‘mini bazaar’ within the premises of Gurdwara Janamasthan here — the birthplace of Guru Nanak — allotted by the PSGPC on a contract of Rs 80,000 during the Gurpurb celebrations.

The main entrance of Gurdwara Shaheed Dalip Singh (part of gurdwara Nankana Sahib) is being used for laundry and ironing clothes. The presenting of ‘siropas’ (robe of honour) to police officers in uniform, apart from other senior officials of the district administration, by Mr Sham Singh, Co-Chairman, PSGPC, in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib hurt the sentiments of pilgrims, leaders of the Babbar Khalsa International, the Dal Khalsa, the Khalistan Council and the Nankana Sahib Foundation, who have been demanding a separate Sikh state.

Nobody can deny that several Sikh shrines, including Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, Rori Sahib, Sacha Sauda or Gurdwara Dera Sahib have been given a face-lift by carrying out major renovation, but nobody has bothered about ‘maryada’.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee cannot escape responsibility as it has been adopting an ad hoc approach with regard to the gurdwaras in Pakistan. Instead of taking up the matter of restoring ‘maryada’ in Sikh shrines in Pakistan at an appropriate platform, the SGPC has placed the entire blame on the PSGPC.

Mr Sham Singh, Co-Chairman, PSGPC, alleges that the Sikhs in Pakistan are sore that the SGPC has not appreciated the Government of Pakistan even once for spending huge amounts on gurdwaras in Pakistan. Pakistan is the first Islamic country where a gurdwara committee has been formed to manage the affairs of shrines”. The SGPC had no moral right to demand control of gurdwaras in foreign land as it had failed to bring all gurdwaras of India under its ambit, he ridiculed.

Except for Nankana Sahib, Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Sacha Sauda and two more shrines, Guru Granth Sahib is not placed in the rest of 165 gurdwaras of Pakistan. What is worse, the employees of the Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust, which controls the gurdwaras, are not aware of ‘Sikh maryada’. Some of the employees who reside inside the gurdwara premises along with their family members have constructed ‘toilets’ in the ‘parkarma’. Such violation is evident at Gurdwara Bhai Taruji, Landa Bazaar, Lahore, where the Pakistan Evacuee Trust Board has allowed encroachment too. Radical Sikh leaders from the USA, the UK, Switzerland, and other countries, talking to TNS, said the ‘maryada’ in gurdwaras of Pakistan should be restored at the earliest.

Mr Joginder Singh, assistant secretary, SGPC, said it was hurting to note that ‘Sehajdhari Sikhs’ were dancing without covering their heads to film tunes within the premises of Gurdwara Nankana Sahib”. However, a common devotee said the Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust had done commendable job by giving a ‘bridal look’ to some shrines.

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