SGPC scraps international meet on Punjabi language again

Sources said SAD fears backlash from NRIs ahead of polls.

Written by KAMALDEEP SINGH BRAR | Amritsar | Published:September 19, 2016 5:54 am

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) Sunday cancelled the international conference on Punjabi language — for the fourth time in the last one year.

This time the conference, called Vishva Punjabi Bhasha Samelan, has been cancelled with just a week to go for it and no new dates having been announced either.

In a press note, SGPC cited “critical conditions” of Punjab as the reason behind the move. In the pipeline for the past one year, the conference was scheduled to be held at Anandpur Sahib on 25th and 26th of this month.

Later, SGPC issued a revised press note, claiming that the conference was cancelled due to some “urgent reasons” but did not explain.

Sources, meanwhile, suggested that SGPC’s move came after instructions from Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) that is fearing backlash from NRI Sikh participants invited to the conference.

Initially, this conference was scheduled on October 24 and 25 last year. But the SGPC had to cancel it then as Punjab was on the boil due to incidents of desecration and the state had observed a complete shutdown for more than 10 days.

At the time, the conference was re-scheduled to February. It was, however, again postponed to June with SGPC citing that a guest from Pakistan, Fakhar Jaman, was facing a visa problem.

In its revised second press note Sunday, SGPC stated: “We are extremely sorry for cancelling the conference at the last hour. We were ready with all arrangements and invites were sent to scholars across the world. SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar has cancelled the conference due to some urgent reasons and now it is not possible to go ahead with it. It is declared cancelled.”

In the first press note, SGPC had cited “critical conditions” of Punjab for cancelling the conference.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar didn’t answer phone calls.

A source in SGPC said, “SAD(B) doesn’t want any trouble before the 2017 assembly elections. Many NRI scholars of Punjabi language were to participate in the conference and it was possible that some of them could have attacked the Punjab government and SAD in their speeches. At present, the atmosphere is not favourable for SAD among Sikh Punjabis living outside India. It is possible now this conference may now be planned after the assembly elections.”