M A I N   N E W S

SGPC, Jathedar cross swords over heritage
status to Golden Temple
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 27
Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, executive member of the SGPC today crossed swords over the proposed announcement of the world heritage status for the Golden Temple by Unesco.

While Bibi Kiranjot Kaur who was coordinator for preparing a dossier of the Golden Temple, announced that she would ask the Jathedar of Akal Takht as to why he had appointed UK based Dr Jasdev Singh Rai his international adviser who had challenged the contents of the dossier, Jathedar Vedanti said he himself would go through the dossier. Jathedar Vedanti said he would also discuss the dossier with Sikh intellectuals and religious persons. He, said a discussion could enlighten the Sikh masses on the pros and cons of the dossier. He, however, said Dr Rai would definitely remove the genuine grievances of Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, if any.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur said she would urge Jathedar Vedanti to look into the credentials of his international adviser who was out to create “disinformation and confusion” among the Sikh masses regarding the dossier. On the objections raised by Mr Hardip Singh Mohali, an SGPC member, that the name of Darbar Sahib was used as Golden Temple in the dossier, she said the word "Harimandir" (transliteration of Golden Temple) was used time and again as mentioned in Gurbani.

When asked that Dr Rai had been contesting the "turban issue" with the government of France on behalf of the SGPC and Akal Takht , she quipped that he (Dr Rai) had wrongly presented the issue . She alleged that Dr Rai had stated before the France government that turban was "cultural symbol" and not a "religious one" . The definition of turban presented by Dr Rai could not be acceptable to the Sikh masses .

The SGPC executive member, however, dismissed the apprehensions raised by Dr Rai that the heritage site would invite avoidable interference in Harimandir Sahib’s management. She said Jathedar of Akal Takht must investigate at whose behest Dr Rai was raising "irrelevant" objections ?

Bibi Kiranjit Kaur said the SGPC would seek clarification from Unesco whether bestowing of heritage status would have any adverse impact on the management of the Golden Temple? She said the letter which was likely to be sent to Unesco reads, "if Unesco would impose any new management rules and regulations with the announcement of heritage site? If Unesco clarifies this aspect, the concern of the community would be adequately answered.

She said the Unesco had already clarified that "it notes in particular that the Act provides for governmental non interference in the gurdwara management . Thus evidently the SGPC had complete autonomy to the act". Bibi Kiranjot Kaur said contents of the Unesco’s letter should remove the apprehensions raised by certain quarters. She , however, said the SGPC won’t accept any condition of the Unesco at the cost of Maryada. She said many temples , mosques and churches including that of Vatican city were declared heritage sites by Unesco while no Sikh shrine could get this status so far . She said the Sikh scholars and heritage lovers were consulted before completion of the dossier .

When her attention was drawn towards the statement of Bibi Jagir Kaur that the dossier would be studied afresh , Bibi Kiranjot Kaur said such a situation was unwarranted as it had already got the sanction of SGPC the Executive.

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