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Posted at: Jan 9, 2019, 6:53 AM; last updated: Jan 9, 2019, 12:06 PM (IST)

Ban on photography draws flak, SGPC justifies decision

Says move aimed at maintaining sanctity of Golden Temple
Ban on photography draws flak, SGPC justifies decision
A notice board displaying the ban order at the Golden Temple on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Vishal Kumar

GS Paul
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, January 8

The SGPC’s move to ban photography and videography on the premises of the Golden Temple has not gone down well with Sikh scholars and devotees even as the religious body justified it saying that the decision has been taken to maintain serenity and spiritual ambiance of the shrine.

The SGPC clarified that the restriction is not applicable on photojournalists who cover visits by dignitaries and other events of religious or political significance inside the premises. Similarly, professional documentary makers, too, could be allowed to shoot films that are religious in content subject to prior permission from the SGPC.

Nonetheless, warning boards in the parikarma of the shrine, carrying the prohibitory message in three languages, have been put up. The SGPC task force has been told to keep an eye on the violators.

SGPC chief secretary Dr Roop Singh observed that selfies clicked by most of the visitors in various poses and styles with Golden Temple in the backdrop appeared derogatory.

Dr Roop Singh said: “True devotees would seldom focus on clicking pictures as they revere the shrine with utmost devotion. Others consider the shrine as a tourist spot and capture their moments in a picnic mood. We have imposed restriction on the second category of visitors. Also, hoards of visitors gather at the entrance to click pictures with their cameras and phones, thus creating hindrance in the movement of devotees at the parikrama,” he said.

The ban has drawn criticism from various quarters. Madan Lal of Solan, who paid obeisance at the shrine today, said he was unaware of the rule and was stopped by an SGPC staffer when he tried to click pictures. “I am a matured person and came here with my family. How could they doubt my devotion towards the shrine? People take pictures for the sake of memory and it should be allowed,” he said.

Similarly, some students from Mumbai, who visited the Golden Temple for the first time, were a dejected lot. Deepak, an engineering student, said: “It is our hard luck that the orders were implemented on our maiden visit. Instead of a blanket ban of photography, the SGPC should keep a vigil on non-serious crowd.”

Former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib Giani Kewal Singh said the orders should be withdrawn immediately. “Rather, the SGPC should insist on the visitors to maintain the sanctity and maryada of the shrine. The ban order will be seen as a negative step,” he said.

Sikh scholar Ashok Singh Bagrian said it was a narrow thinking on part of the SGPC to implement such dictatorial orders.

Scribes exempted

The SGPC has clarified that the restriction is not applicable on photojournalists who cover visits of dignitaries and other events of religious or political significance at the shrine.

May review decision, says Roop Singh

Amritsar: Dr Roop Singh, SGPC chief secretary, however, softened his stance when apprised of the resentment among visitors who come from far off places. “We may think of allowing the visitors to click pictures, but only under strict supervision,” he said. Earlier, Dr Roop Singh said: “True devotees would seldom focus on clicking pictures as they revere the shrine with utmost devotion. Others consider the shrine as a tourist spot and capture their moments in a picnic mood. We have imposed restriction on the second category of visitors. Also, hoards of visitors gather at the entrance to click pictures with their cameras and phones, thus creating hindrance in the movement of devotees at the parikrama,” he said. TNS

Sehajdhari party asks Takht to intervene

Moga: The Sehajdhari Sikh Party has requested Akal Takht to intervene and direct the SGPC to revoke its illogical move to ban photography at the Golden Temple. Parmjeet Singh Ranu, president, alleged that it was a well-planned move initiated by the RSS through the SGPC to lower the popularity of the sacred Sikh Shrine, which is a world famous monument. The SGPC had always followed the RSS diktats and even barred lakhs of Sehajdhari Sikhs to vote in the gurdwara elections, he alleged. Ranu alleged that the ban would ruin the image and popularity of the Sikh religion across the globe. “People create memories by clicking pictures at the revered shrine. They will see it a negative move,” he claimed. TNS

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