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Row over Control of gurdwaras in haryana
Itís Panth vs Cong, says Badal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 23
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who is preparing to launch an agitation against the formation of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC), today said it was a fight between the Panth and the Congress.

He said it was wrong to perceive that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was launching a protest against the Sikhs of Haryana. "We have nothing against Haryana Sikhs. Our fight is against the Congress, which has been trying to weaken Akal Takht and demolish the SAD and the SGPC ó three important organisations of the Panth," said Badal while speaking to The Tribune this afternoon.

Asserting he will be the first one to offer his arrest against the formation of the HSGMC, Badal said he would not rest till the original form of the SGPC was restored. "I cannot reveal much, but I can say that I have prepared for a peaceful battle against the separate gurdwara management body," said Badal.

A meeting of the core committee of the SAD would be held in Amritsar on July 26, a day before the scheduled World Sikh Conference at Golden Temple, where the name of the 'morcha' leader is likely to be announced.

Asked if he would resign before offering his arrest, Badal said: "We will make important announcements at the World Sikh Conference."

Badal is likely to offer his resignation at the core committee meeting to pave way for Sukhbir Badal to take over as CM, said sources.

"We are not fond of launching a morcha, but the Congress government in Haryana has forced us to do so. In order to maintain peace in the region, the Haryana Government should revoke the law passed to create the HSGMC," the CM added.

"Our morcha will be a peaceful one and not against any individual or community. It will be against the Congress. Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda did all this with the consent of his party high command," he asserted.

Badal also appealed to Akali activists not to take any weapon to gurdwaras in Haryana. "I urge all Akali activists to maintain peace even if faced with provocation," he said.

If the HSGPC law is revoked, elected SGPC members of Haryana will have full authority to run the affairs of gurdwaras in that state within the legal framework of the SGPC and under the command of its president and executive, said Badal. "An additional office of the SGPC can be set up in Haryana," the Punjab CM added.

Dismissing allegations that the SGPC neglected religious institutions in Haryana, Badal said the SGPC was spending more on gurdwaras there than what it collected from the state. Sikh leaders campaigning for the separate HSGMC lost the previous gurdwara elections on this issue. "This makes it clear that Haryana Sikhs do not want a separate gurdwara committee. It was only Congress' design to divide the SGPC to weaken the Sikh voice," he added.

He said the SGPC was not a territorial body which could be bifurcated. "It is a body which represents the voice and aspirations of Sikhs world over. Being a representative body of Sikhs, it cannot be divided. It was a body to take decision on vital issues pertaining to Sikhs," said Badal, adding that 431 persons gave their lives in 1910 for the creation of the SGPC. Besides, 30,000 went to jail and 2,000 were injured.

He said that Haryana had no power to enact the law to create the HSGMC. "Suppose if Punjab Assembly passes a law saying that Chandigarh is a part of Punjab and other states should vacate it, will such a legal act not create anarchy? The Haryana Government has gone beyond its legal jurisdiction to pass the law to create the HSGMC. Under Section 72 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, the SGPC is an inter-state body corporate and it cannot be bifurcated by passing legislation," Badal added. 

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