A devotee Sunday alleged that the SGPC employees at the Golden Temple asked his family members, who have recovered from Covid-19, to remove face masks before entering the sanctum sanctorum, a charge that has been denied by the authorities at the gurdwara.
Surinder Pal Singh Goldy, a Jalandhar resident who had remained the vice president of Youth Akali Dal for seven years before quitting party in 2007, said that he and his family members visited the Golden Temple Sunday to fulfill the last wish of his father jathedar Jaimal Singh. “We all were wearing masks. But SGPC employees on duty at the entry asked us to remove them. We decided not to get into an argument and removed the masks,” Goldy said.
His father, a former Akali leader, died recently at the age of 93.
“We were a group of 14 including my mother and brother who have recovered from Covid-19. First, we were asked to remove our masks at the entry gate of the Golden Temple by SGPC employees. But we refused to do so. Then we were again asked to remove the masks in the parikarma of Golden Temple. This time I told the SGPC employees that two of us have Covid-19 history. The employee then objected to my brother and mother visiting the Golden Temple. I again explained that they have recovered but should wear mask as per the protocol,” Goldy alleged.
He said, “The third time we were stopped at the entry to the sanctum sanctorum of Golden Temple and asked to remove mask. They asked us if we didn’t have any faith in the Guru. This time we couldn’t resist and took off our masks. My brother and mother too had to remove their masks”.
Goldy asked if the the SGPC wants to push Sikhs into the well of death. “My family and I are devout people but Guru Sahib never told us to commit suicide. How can wearing mask put a question mark on my devotion? How can wearing a mask be against the Sikh principles,” he asked.
Goldy is not the only one to have come out with such allegations. Amritsar-based writer and engineer Harpal Singh also had to face a similar experience.
“My colleague, who had come from Delhi for official work on July 8, and I went to the Golden Temple and we both had our masks on. But we were asked to remove the mask at the entry of sanctum sanctorum,” Harpal Singh told the The Indian Express.
Manmeet Kaur Chawla sent a complaint to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on June 15 making similar allegations.
“I recently found out that devotees are being asked to remove face masks before entering Harmandir Sahib, which is a huge public health risk and makes no sense (especially) when wearing masks in public has been made mandatory. A lot of the visitors are elderly, and hence they are at high risk of Covid-19. Kindly look into this as it is a matter of life and death,” reads the e-mail that Chawla sent.
Chawla said she is yet to get any response on her mail from Chief Minister’s Office.
Mukhtiyar Singh, manager, Golden Temple, however, denied the allegations. “Those must not be our employees who made devotees remove mask. We have been following instructions”.
When asked why hardly any devotee is seen with mask on inside the Golden Temple premises during live telecast in morning and evening, Mukhtiyar Singh said, “It is not like that. All devotees wear masks. We ask all of them to wear mask.”
SGPC secretary Mahinder Singh Ahali was not available for comments.
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