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Withdraw Gurudwara Bill Amendment or face agitation: SGPC warns Punjab govt

Golden Temple, Amritsar. (Photo: Yash Sachdeva/Twitter)

Refusing to let Bhagwant Mann led AAP government to interfere in Sikh matters, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has warned of an agitation if the government fails to withdraw the Sikh Gurdwara (Amendment) Bill, 2023. Accusing Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal of trying to implement the “anti-Sikh agenda”, SGPC chief Harjinder Singh Dhami said that they would not take it lying low.

Dhami addressed a special general house days after the state assembly passed the amendment Bill, paving the way for eliminating the alleged undue control over “the free-to-air” telecast of the sacred Gurbani from the Golden Temple.

“If the state government does not stop interference in Sikh matters, then a morcha (agitation) will be started against it after performing ‘ardas’ (prayer) at the Akal Takht. Then it will be the responsibility of the government,” warned Dhami. He insisted that any amendment in the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 can be made only with the approval of a two-third majority of SGPC members. The SGPC chief said neither the Centre nor the Punjab government has any right to amend the law.

Dhami accused Mann of blindly following Kejriwal and alleged that the amendment was carried out as part of a conspiracy of ‘babu’ Kejriwal.

It may be noted that it was June 20 that the bill was passed in the state assembly where the CM claimed that it aimed to free the undue control of a particular family over the rights to telecast sacred Gurbani. Mann was referring to the Badal family and Shiromani Akali Dal. The party has stakes in Channel PTC which has exclusive rights to the telecast.

Mann insisted that it was a paradoxical situation that the SGPC under the influence of a ‘family’ that controls its affairs, had given intellectual property rights of telecasting the sacred Gurbani to a channel owned by them. It may be noted not just Mann but many leaders of SGPC including veteran Bibi Jagir Kaur too have raised the same issue launching her religious outfit to counter Badal’s interference in SGPC. Kaur has been raising the demand of SGPC launching its own channel for broadcast of Gurbani.

Kaur who attended the meeting today was snubbed as she tried to raise this issue. Though Jagir Kaur supported the SGPC on the issue of opposing the amendment bill, she questioned the SAD leadership for maintaining silence over the issue. She also accused SAD leaders of compromising the status of Akal Takht. As she started taking up the case against the Badals she was snubbed for misusing the platform and her mike was silenced during live telecast.

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