Ignoring strong protests from Amritsar-based SGPC, the apex religious body of the Sikhs, and Punjab's ruling Akali Dal and other groups, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda today announced enactment of a law to form a separate SGPC for his state.
At a function organised by Sikh leaders from Haryana at Kaithal, Hooda said keeping in view the sentiments and aspirations of the Sikhs in his state, a law will be enacted to form separate panel for his state.
Haryana Assembly will meet in Chandigarh on Friday and the bill for setting up of a separate SGPC is expected to be introduced. Hooda said this has been a long-pending demand of the Sikhs of Haryana so that they could have the right to perform 'Sewa' in the Gurudwaras in the state.
He was speaking in presence of Punjab PCC chief Pratap Singh Bajwa, Haryana Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala, former Kurukshetra MP Navin Jindal, Haryana PCC chief Ashok Tanwar, former chief of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee Paramjeet Singh Sarna and Sikh leaders from Haryana, including Didar Singh Nalwi.
Hooda said realising that Sikhs of his state had earlier raised a demand for separate Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), he had formed a committee under chairmanship of minister Harmohinder Singh Chattha, himself a Sikh, to go into the issue. The Committee later gave its report favouring a separate panel for Haryana by breaking away from Amritsar-based SGPC.
He said the Chattha committee had received "lakhs of affidavits" from the Sikhs of Haryana favouring separate SGPC.
Hooda said some people including Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar had opposed setting up of a separate body, but he stressed that while he has highest respect for them, they should realise and understand that this was not a political issue, but one concerning the aspirations and sentiments of the Sikhs of Haryana.
He rubbished the charge that Congress was interfering in the religious affairs of the Sikhs. "It is the question of sentiments of the Sikh community of my state," he said, adding once again this has been echoed by the Sikhs present in today's gathering.
Hooda said once the separate panel is formed, which is the right of the Sikhs of Haryana, it will be an independent body with no political interference.
He asked the Sikhs present on the occasion whether they wanted to take control of running the affairs of their Gurudwaras and after getting a positive response, he announced to enact a law.
Hooda said the demand for separate SGPC has been raised in the past and it had also been a poll promise of Congress in 2005.
"On a number of times, we were asked what are we going to do about this (regarding separate SGPC). I had always maintained that whatever decision we will take, it will be in the interests of the Sikh community of Haryana and in keeping with their wishes and aspirations," he said.
Hooda touched upon his family background, saying he belongs to such a family which knows to respect and honour what the people want and forming separate SGPC was honouring the sentiments of the people.
Speaking on the occasion, Chattha said the Committee headed by him had received "lakhs of affidavits from the Sikhs of Haryana". He said the Sikh community in Haryana was seeking the right to do 'Sewa' in their Gurudwaras.
Chattha hit out at SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar, saying he allegedly tried to "scare the Sikhs of Haryana not to become part of separate panel". He also said that while SGPC had set up a number of institutions including top schools and colleges in Punjab, the same was not true for Haryana. Surjewala said having a separate SGPC was a matter of right for the Sikhs of Haryana and Congress was committed to honour this.
Ashok Tanwar said the Sikhs of his state had raised demand for separate SGPC about 12-13 years back and their long struggle had finally borne fruit today. Naveen Jindal said after a long struggle and wait the dream of Sikhs of Haryana to have their own body was about to come true. "I think justice has been done with Sikhs of Haryana," he said.