A decade after he made a promise in the Congress manifesto, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Sunday announced the setting up of a separate Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee for the state.
The announcement came amid strong protests from Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal and Amritsar-based SGPC.
Since it requires a legislation to provide a separate SGPC for Haryana, the government will bring a bill in the Monsoon session of the Assembly. The SGPC, which has threatened to move court against the decision, will hold protests on Monday.
Hooda made this announcement at a Sikh sammelan held in Kaithal on Sunday, saying his decision is in accordance with the recommendations of the Chatha Committee — formed by the government — to seek the views of the Sikhs of the state. Finance Minister Harmohinder Singh Chatha had collected affidavits of over 2.5 lakh Sikhs who wanted a separate SGPC for Haryana.
On opposition from the Badals, Hooda said: “They should realise that it was not a political but an emotional issue for the Sikhs of Haryana. At no point of time, we meant to meddle in the religious affairs. Our intention is to take a decision in accordance of the sentiments of the Sikhs.”
Commenting on Badal and SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar’s recent statements on the issue, Hooda said: “I have read their statements. They may not respect me but they should respect the sentiments of the Sikhs of Haryana.” Hooda added that the Sikhs of Haryana have full faith in the Akal Takht and the Sikh gurus and want to serve the gurus by taking the management of gurdwaras in their own hands.
Chatha, while speaking on the occasion, said that by having a separate SGPC, Sikhs of Haryana were seeking to do sewa (service) in state gurdwaras.
Haryana Sikh leaders, Didar Singh Nalwi and Jagdish Singh Jhinda, also welcomed the move. Recalling how they had been fighting for a separate SGPC since 2000, Nalwi said: “We have rejected the proposal of the Akal Takht’s 10-member committee, which offered us autonomy in running the affairs of gurdwaras.”