While Punjab and Haryana are fighting over the formation of a separate gurdwara prabandhak committee in Haryana, people living near the Nada Sahib Gurdwara here are living in fear, apprehending violence in the wake of the recent arrival of around 200 members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee task force.
The task force has allegedly been sent from Punjab to prevent attempts to take over the gurdwara by Sikh leaders of Haryana. Locals allege that many of them are armed.
“The number of devotees visiting the gurdwara has declined significantly,” said Bhupinder Singh, a resident of Nada Sahib village, adding that anything could happen if the Haryana committee tried to take over the gurdwara.
The locals, however, back the Haryana government’s decision to form a separate committee for running and managing gurdwaras of the state.
“The SGPC earns a lot of money, but hardly puts back in for the development and welfare of the Sikhs living here. No educational institution or dispensary has been set up by the SGPC here,” said Bhupinder.
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Shopkeepers near the gurdwara complain of falling business. “The people are now afraid of visiting the gurdwara, we get anxious calls from devotees asking whether it was safe to visit the gurdwara,” said Rajinder Singh, a shopkeeper.
Sukhwinder Singh, another shopkeeper, said, “Members of the task force are staying at the gurdwara guesthouse. They usually stay inside during the afternoon, come out in the evening and keep a close watch on public movement. Devotees coming from outside are now being denied a stay at the guesthouse.’’
SGPC members, however, denied the allegation. “The gurdwara is being run in a completely non-biased manner. The footfall of devotees has not decreased, no person is being denied of his or her rights at the gurdwara,” said SGPC member Paramvir Singh.
Justifying the presence of the task force, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said, “There are a few persons who want to forcibly occupy the gurdwaras of Haryana. In order to protect the same, we have to take some action.” However, Makkar said the task force would not indulge in violence.