Updated: April 8, 2022 2:06:31 am
PUNJAB CHIEF Minister Bhagwant Mann on Thursday appealed to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to allow the AAP government to install “advanced broadcast technology” at the Golden Temple in Amritsar to beam the Gurbani live on various digital platforms globally. The plea, however, drew a frosty response from the Akali-dominated SGPC, which asked him to “focus on running the government” and “not meddle in religious affairs”.
In a video message, Mann said: “This endeavour would go a long way in offering an opportunity to devotees to listen to the Gurbani besides having a glimpse of the Golden Temple… We are ready to discharge any duty assigned by the SGPC.”
The AAP leader said “it is the need of the hour to propagate the message of Gurus across the world”. He appealed to the SGPC to relay the Gurbani from the Golden Temple on various media, including satellite TV, radio, social media and mobile apps instead of limiting its reach to a single medium.
“We will provide the latest infrastructure/ technology in this regard at Darbar Sahib, including latest cameras and broadcasting equipment, to relay the Gurbani Kirtan through other digital platforms like YouTube, mobile apps, religious channels or any other channel, which intend to telecast the same instead of relaying it only from one medium so as to enhance its reach across the world,” he said.
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Mann’s appeal is being seen as an indirect attack on the monopoly of PTC channel, which is linked to the Badal family, over the telecast of Gurbani.
Incidentally, Rabinder Narayan, president and managing director of PTC, was arrested on Wednesday from his Gurgaon residence following a complaint of sexual harassment filed by a contestant of PTC Miss Punjaban beauty pageant.
Responding to the Chief Minister’s appeal, SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami said in a statement that the committee is an elected representative body of the Sikh Panth and the state government “should not interfere in the affairs of the Guru’s house”. He said the “domains of the government and religion are different”.
Dhami said the Chief Minister should “not engage in politics”, and instead pay attention to long-pending demands of SGPC, such as beautification of roads leading to the Golden Temple and release of pending payments for SC scholarships and aided staff in educational institutions run by the committee.
“The government has not acted on these issues,” Dhami said.
The SGPC chief said that a seven-member panel has already been set up on the telecast of Gurbani and “further action would be taken as per its report”. “The Punjab CM should focus on work to be done by the government instead of misleading the Sangat (pilgrims and community) by playing politics in the name of religion,” he said.
Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, spokesperson of the Badals-led Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said: “This was like the previous announcements of the CM, made without proper homework.” He said that the CM should note that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is the Centre’s domain, and that the “Sangat has been demanding the Gurbani broadcast” by the national broadcasters for years but the demand “was never met”.
There have been moves made earlier, too, by political parties and sections of the Sikh community to weaken the hold of the Akali Dal and the Badal family over the SGPC.
In the years following the Anandpur Sahib resolution of 1973, which stated that the message of the Gurus and the Gurbani should be disseminated, there were demands for telecast and broadcast on Doordarshan and All India Radio.
The Badals-led Shiromani Akali Dal, in its manifesto for the 2011 SGPC election, had promised that they would start the committee’s own channel and that the signal would be shared with all channels.
In 2019, during the Congress government under Amarinder Singh, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed a resolution that the telecast of Gurbani should be open to all media without a monopoly.
But none of these moves led to a result.
On July 21, 2012, the SGPC granted “sole, exclusive, absolute and full worldwide broadcasting rights” of Gurbani from the Darbar Sahib to G Next Media Pvt Ltd, the company that owns PTC channels, for an annual payment of Rs 1 crore with a 10 per cent increase every year for a period of 11 years.
The details of the agreement were obtained from the SGPC in 2015 by Sikh activist Baldev Singh Sirsa through an RTI application.
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