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Clash over tunnel-like structures excavated near Golden Temple

Volunteers were digging up the site when two structures that resembled tunnels, made of Nanakshahi bricks, were discovered. Despite the objection of some heritage activists, who wanted the structures to be examined, SGPC didn’t stop work.

Construction volunteers and Sikh activists clash outside Golden Temple on Thursday morning. (Express Photo by Rana Simranjit Singh)

A CLASH broke out between a group of construction volunteers and Sikh activists near the Akal Takht secretariat outside the Golden Temple in Amritsar Thursday morning while the former were trying to fill concrete into underground tunnel-like structures discovered during excavation work.

On July 2, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had started the work to develop a Jora Ghar (a place for devotees to keep their shoes when they visit the temple) and Gathrhi Ghar (cloak house) towards the entrance on the side of secretariat. The Kar Sewa (voluntary service) had been handed over to Baba Kashmir Singh Bhuriwale.

Volunteers were digging up the site when two structures that resembled tunnels, made of Nanakshahi bricks, were discovered. Despite the objection of some heritage activists, who wanted the structures to be examined, SGPC didn’t stop work.

On Thursday, Baldev Singh Wadala, a Sikh activist and hymn singer, reached the spot and his supporters clashed with the construction volunteers. The spokesperson of Kashmir Singh Bhuriwale diverted all questions to SGPC.

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“We are just asking SGPC to investigate what these structures are. Maybe they belong to the period of Sikh gurus. But instead of investigating, they want to bury these structures under concrete. Already Kar Sewa organisations have caused much damage to historical gurdwara buildings in and outside Punjab. But instead of listening to us, we were attacked,” said Wadala.

SDM Vikas Hira alongwith police personnel reached the site and stopped the work till further orders. “A tunnel-like structure has been found during the excavation. The site will be examined by the archaeological expert of the government. A meeting of the Sikh bodies and government officials will be held,” said the SDM.

“It is of no historical importance. Still, we can investigate it,” said SGPC chief secretary Harjinder Singh Dhami, while talking to The Indian Express.

SGPC softens its stand

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After the controversy, SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur said, “We have stopped the work and asked the deputy commissioner to inform the Archaeological Survey of India. We will preserve this structure if it is found to be of historical significance.”

First published on: 16-07-2021 at 06:10 IST
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