October 8, 2021 6:44:07 am
THE SHIROMANI Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is going to hire at least 200 ex-army personnel to strengthen the security at historical gurdwaras including the Golden Temple. The decision to hire the ex-servicemen, who must be baptised Sikhs, is also being taken due to incidents of sacrilege.
SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur said the move is “an attempt to neutralise efforts to communalise the environment in Punjab”.
“We are hiring ex-servicemen because they are dedicated, punctual and trained to do security-related work. We used to hire ex-servicemen in the past too but now numbers have decreased. Recently, we hired 22 ex-servicemen and there is demand for more,” said Kaur.
Recently, an incident of sacrilege was reported at Takht Kesgarh Sahib where the accused was a follower of Dera Sacha Sauda, after which SGPC had deployed newly hired ex-servicemen there.
SGPC already has a task force, however, its members are not trained and often invite criticism for unprofessional behaviour, sources said.
“There are continuous efforts to hurt the communal harmony of the state. There were such attempts in the past too.We don’t want any religious place to be disrespected. But we have seen recently that gurdwaras are a continuous target. So we have to take action so such suspicious persons can be apprehended before they do something resulting in communal divide. It is an attempt to keep check on communal forces,” said Kaur.
“Ex-servicemen are supposed to be good at keeping an eye on such bad elements. The Golden Temple manager has demanded 150 ex-servicemen. There is the ‘Galliara’ around the Golden Temple where bad elements sometimes rob devotees. We have lakhs of devotees everyday. At night almost every inch of the Golden Temple premises is occupied. Our inns remain full. So we have to take care of the security of devotees,” said the SGPC president.
She added, “It is unfortunate that there is such an environment in the state that we have to take such measures. But we don’t want anyone to create trouble.we don’t want to take any risk especially when elections are around the corner in Punjab.”
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