M A I N   N E W S

HSGMC attempts gurdwara takeover
* Begins dharna outside SGPC-run Kurukshetra shrine
* Admn fails to defuse situation
Nitish Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kurukshetra, August 2
If the mood of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC) members is any indication, it would seem Kurukshetra is emerging a new battleground over who controls state gurdwaras now.

Scores of rival HSGMC members on Saturday gathered outside the gurdwara in an attempt to wrest control of the shrine, where sources said, over 1,000 SAD and SGPC supporters are staying.

Tension involving the Haryana Sikhs and their Punjab counterparts has been simmering since the state government enacted a law setting up a separate body to manage the state's gurdwara affairs. This has brought the Hooda government in conflict with the Punjab-based SGPC which claims control over the inter-state gurdwaras and is dominated by the Akalis.

A late night report said a meeting called by top police and civil administration officials failed to defuse the situation. HSGMC president Jagdish Singh Jhinda told reporters that the Sikh sangat wanted to continue the morcha. "It has been decided we won't leave from here. A five-member committee has been formed to discuss the matter with the Haryana government." A section of the HSGMC members defied calls by senior vice-president Didar Singh Nalvi and other members of a peaceful takeover and tried to storm the gurdwara, but were stopped by the police near the shrine. After the HSGMC attempt, hundreds of SGPC supporters took up positions around the gurdwara and shut the main gate.

As Jhinda, Nalvi and some other leaders held deliberations, more than 300 supporters led by committee members Avtar Singh Chakku, Joga Singh, Harpal Singh Palli, Apar Singh and Baba Baljit Singh Dadudwal marched towards the gurdwara around 3.50 pm raising slogans against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar.

The police tried to intervene but the HSGMC supporters damaged three barricades and attempted to reach the gurdwara. But they were stopped just short of the gurdwara, where they sat on a dharna and raised slogans. Jhinda and Nalvi later joined the dharna.

Jhinda said: "We have started taking control of Sikh shrines in Haryana from today and it's the duty of the administration to get the gurdwara evacuated. We have started a dharna and will not leave until we get control of the gurdwara."

He alleged that those deputed by the SGPC and SAD inside the gurdwara had been hired on "daily wages".

Nalvi said: "We didn't want to take the control of the gurdwara forcefully, but have been forced to do so. It has been a month since the HSGMC Act was passed, but we have not got the management of the gurdwaras yet."

Sub-Divisional Magistrate Vinay Kumar, who reached the scene, talked to both sides and offered to convene a meeting for a resolution.

The HSGMC leaders said they were ready for talks with senior leaders of the SAD and SGPC but the meeting should be convened at the Kurukshehtra mini secretariat.

SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar said: "I am ready for talks, but the meeting should be held in Chandigarh."

On HSGMC's attempt to take over the gurdwara, he said: "I don't want to spell out the kind of response they will get if they try to enter the gurdwara premises forcefully."

SAD MP Prem Singh Chandumajra, who arrived at the gurdwara around 6 pm, said: "The Hooda government is to blame for the situation. Akal Takht has already directed the SGPC to manage Sikh shrines till the matter is resolved. "The HSGMC move is condemnable. We will not let them take control at any cost. They can send a six-member delegation for a meeting, but it should not include the two (Jhinda and Nalvi) who have been excommunicated by Akal Takth."

SGPC senior vice-president Raghujit Singh Virk, who was at the gurdwara, said: "The administration is responsible for maintaining law and order. Why hasn't the administration prevented hundreds of people from gathering outside the gurdwara? Why has it allowed them to sit on a dharna just 50 feet from the gurdwara?"

Sources in the HSGMC said the decision to take control of the gurdwara was taken during a meeting in Kaithal a few days ago.

Akal Takht calls for talks

Amritsar: Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh on Saturday called upon both sides to hold talks and sort out the matter. He said he would try to bring both sides on the negotiating table. “They (HSGMC) attempted to forcibly take over the gurdwara, which was unfortunate… We don’t want any confrontation among the Sikhs from the two sides,” he said.

Won’t leave until we’re in control

We have started taking control of Sikh shrines in Haryana from today and it’s the duty of the administration to get the gurdwara evacuated. We will not leave until we get control of the gurdwara.

Jagdish Singh Jhinda, HSGMC President

Won’t let them take control

We will not let them take control. They can send a delegation for a meeting, but without the two (Jhinda & Nalvi) who have been excommunicated

PS Chandumajra, SAD MP





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | E-mail |