Akal Takht steps in to tackle separate Sikh panel row

Akal Takht steps in to tackle separate Sikh panel row

Akal Takht steps in to tackle separate Sikh panel row

A potentially escalating conflict between Punjab and Haryana over the contentious issue of a separate Sikh Gurdwara panel for Haryana receded on Saturday with both sides calling off their planned mega Sikh congregations scheduled for Sunday and the day after.

 The developments that unfolded followed an edict in the morning from the Akal Takht–the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion in Amritsar–that ordered the warring factions to cancel their proposed assemblies in the interest of peace and harmony. 

Saturday’s violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur, involving Sikh groups, also factored in the edict by the Akal Takht, which apprehended that the situation might worsen if the Sikh congregations weren’t called off. An edict by the Akal Takht is considered binding on the Sikhs.

The Akali Dal had summoned this mega congregation to announce its plan of “peaceful” agitation against the formation of the Haryana Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee (HSGPC). 

The developments come on a day when outgoing Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia–who had accorded his consent to the bill passed by the state Assembly for a separate Sikh Gurdwara panel in Haryana– relinquished charge of his office on Saturday.

The new Governor, Kaptan Singh Solanki, an RSS ideologue, who is yet to take charge, could possibly adopt a contrary position to settle the issue, even seek a Presidential reference if needed. The Centre’s advice to Badal too seems to have worked to diffuse the impasse.   

Veteran BJP leader Shanta Kumar, who has been communicating with Badal and the Centre on the developments, is learnt to have conveyed the sentiments of the central leadership to Badal. BJP top leaders have urged Badal to exercise restraint.

At the Golden Temple on Saturday, Akal Takht head priest Giani Gurbachan Singh said, “All Sikhs are concerned today. Whatever happened in Saharanpur today has increased our concern. The Sikh community is facing a new challenge today. In this situation, I order all groups to call off their conventions in Amritsar (Punjab) and Karnal (Haryana)”.