World Sikh News – SGPC Elections: Whose game is it anyway?

Published 10 months ago – Jagmohan Singh

Behind the scenes confabulations between the Congress party leadership and AAP party legislator Harvinder Singh Phoolka resulted in the Punjab Assembly discussing the future elections of the Sikh Assembly of the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

WSN editor Jagmohan Singh questions the rationale of doing so and points out lacunae in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1925, which are being consistently ignored by the Sikh leadership – traditional – Panthic and the youth.

Yesterday, when the Punjab Assembly passed a resolution authorising the Chief Minister of Panjab to pursue the case of delay in the SGPC elections with the Union government, certain facts were conveniently forgotten or ignored.

Neither did Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, nor did the dillydallying Member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly Harvinder Singh Phoolka mention on the floor of the house as to why and how does the Union government delay elections to the SGPC general house, time and again. This is not happening for the first time.

Sikh organisations within Punjab and in the Diaspora have always been worried about the degradation in the leadership and management of the Sikh religio-political body, the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

As the body deals with millions of rupees garnered from obeisance money given by the devout across the many Gurdwaras it governs and funds from other sources, like rents, etc, the Sikh masses always believe, and rightly so, that these resources could be put to better use than to ‘upkeep’ and ‘maintain’ Gurdwaras alone.

The Sikh Sangat is apprehensive about the huge bureaucratic structure of the SGPC and it is people’s perception that it is largely corrupt and a massive administrative failure.

Whose game is the SGPC? Sikhs have to decide it themselves. The stakes are high. The understanding is minimal. The sharks are waiting to pounce on the Sikhs. Will the Sikhs always be sitting ducks?

As for the people’s views regarding its present leadership, the less said the better. The leadership comprises of members of the Shromani Akali Dal party and for all practical purposes, it is the party interest which is supreme. Since the last many decades this has been so and we have seen that the cause of the Sikhs and the interests of the Sikhs have been fully compromised on ordinary and important issues.

All of this has lead to various fringe groups and individuals to intervene from time to time and the intervention of Harvinder Singh Phoolka should be seen in this light only. Otherwise, the AAP party MLAs and leaders hardly have any sense of the Sikh issues relating to the SGPC and therefore not much was expected from them.

On the floor of the Punjab assembly, the members of the Shromani Akali Dal have perfected the art of ‘walk­ing out’ of the assembly rather than rebutting the fallacious arguments of the opposition on any issue.

If the term of the general house of the SGPC was over in 2016, how come the SGPC continued to function? Is the functioning illegal? Who allowed the SGPC to function as it is? Shromani Akali Dal at the state level? Bharatiya Janata Party at the union level? The Judiciary? The Ministry of Home Affairs? During this whole period, why was the Sikh leadership sleeping?

And significantly, is this happening for the first time? How many times has it happened in the past?

The Punjab Assembly resolution is conceived in sin. The intentions of Sardar Phoolka may be good and he had to ‘relinquish his resigna­tion’, to raise ‘such an important issue’, but we need to know more. The relinquishment of his resignation was temporary or otherwise we do not know.

Why has Harvinder Singh Phoolka conceded the lead he has taken on the SGPC election issue to Captain Amarinder Singh?

The Congress party and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has no love lost for the Sikhs and Sikh is­sues. He has now been bestowed with the mantle to pursue the issue of SGPC elections with the centre.

Under what law? Under what provisions? Why the Chief Minister of the state, who is the leader of a ‘secular’ party and whose party does not participate in SGPC elections at all?

Does the Chief Minister understand the nuances of the SGPC elections? Apart from shooting from the hip statements which can sound pleasing and secular, Captain Amarinder Singh is meddling in Sikh religious affairs. It is unfortunate that he has been given this op­portunity by Harvinder Singh Phoolka whose prime intention is early elections to the SGPC.

The statement that has emanated from the Chief Minister’s Office says, “Hours after he was authorized by the State Assembly to take up with the Centre the issue of delay in SGPC elections, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said people had the right to early polls to the supreme body controlling the Gurdwaras.”

It further elaborates, “Talking informally with media­persons outside the House, the Chief Minister termed the delay in the SGPC elections as wrong and unfair for the people of Punjab.

It was the democratic right of every Punjabi to vote in SGPC elections which cannot be denied by Union Government, he earlier said in the House, while responding to the issue that was raised by AAP MLA HS Phoolka.”

“Since the Gurdwara Act was a national legislation, it was the bounden duty of the central government to hold timely elections to the SGPC, he said, seeking the permission of the Speaker, on behalf of his government, to adopt the resoltion moved by the AAP MLA,” read the statement.

The lapse on the part of the Indian state to conduct the elections regularly constitutes indirect interference in the affairs of the Sikh people, particularly their religious affairs and for this an amendment to Section 51 of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1925 should be done immedately.

Sikhs will do well to recall this. There is no provision for automatic elections to the general house of the SGPC after a lapse of five years. The union government, the state government and the leadership of the party which governs the SGPC have been colluding with each other to delay the elections in the last few decades. There are no provisions for regular enrolment of voters, verification of voters and preparation of voter lists. No provisions for by-elec­tions.

A simple thing as appointment of the Chief Commissioner Gurdwara Elections, which should be a permanent post is neither mentioned in the Act nor has any of the politial parties or leaders taken up with the government in a sincere and sustained manner.

The lapse on the part of the Indian state to conduct the elecions regularly constitutes indirect interference in the affairs of the Sikh people, particularly their religious affairs and for this an amendment to Section 51 of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1925 should be done im­mediately.

If these provisions are added through an amend­ment to the Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1925, there would be no need for the “Chief Minister to take up the issue if elections to the SGPC with the Home Secretary of the govern­ment of India’.

Moreover it will not provide another opportunity for the Chief Minister and his CMO to add further fuel to the fire by issuing a statement which says that, “It was the democratic right of every Punjabi to vote in SGPC elections.” Since when was this right granted to every Punjabi? Sikhs and only Sikhs who fulfil the definition of a ‘Sikh’ can vote in the SGPC elections. Period.

The Sehajadhari Sikhs, about whom the Chief Minister had made the wrong noises in the past, without understanding the definition of the Sehajdhari Sikhs, also stand disenfranchised, fully and forever.

“The ‘people’ of Punjab want SGPC elections. Every Punjabi has the right to vote in the SGPC says Captain Amarinder Singh. Is Captain Amarinder Singh running an RSS government with a Congress mast­head?”

The scion of the Patiala royal household has lost it. After making unnecessary gaffes in an attempt to befuddle the Kartarpur corridor issue by saying that ‘even non-Sikhs’ should be allowed to visit Kartarpur Sahib and sometimes relatng it to cross-border issues and now saying that ‘people of Punjab’ want SGPC elections and “every Punjabi has the right to vote’, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is running an RSS government with a Congress masthead.

Having taken up the matter with the Union Home Minister, why did Harvinder Singh Phoolka concede the leadership on this issue to the Punjab Chief Minister, whose Congress party is now boasting of participation in the SGPC elections?

Whose game is the SGPC? Sikhs have to decide it themselves. The stakes are high. The understanding is minimal. The sharks are waiting to pounce on the Sikhs. Will the Sikhs always be sitting ducks?

Ten months old article but still very relevant
Man in Blue

SGPC Elections: Whose game is it anyway?

The Tribune – Help desks for Kartarpur pilgrims

Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 28 November 22019. The SGPC has come forward to help people who want to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan. It will help these people in completing online documentation formalities.

A special centre was set up at the Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib] entrance plaza today in addition to dedicated help desks in other gurdwaras.

Apart from this, a free bus service is going to be launched tomorrow to ferry devotees from Dera Baba Nanak to Gurdwara Kartarpur corridor terminal.

SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh said keeping in view the difficulties faced by pilgrims in submitting their forms online, employees who are tech-savvy have been deputed at all help desks.

“Besides at the Golden Temple, a counter has been opened at Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj Baba Deep Singh in Amritsar. Similar counters are being established at all gurdwaras run under the SGPC administration. People should get requisite documents along for getting themselves registered online at these counters,” he said.

“For online registration, people should bring coloured photocopies of passport and Aadhaar Card and a passport-size photograph. The rest will be taken care of by SGPC staff,” he said.

The free bus shuttle service will carry them up to the terminal point from Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, approximately 4-km apart, during morning hours and will bring them back in the evening. 

Ieper/Ypres – Commemoration of 1918 armistice and Gent: Moscou – Ledebergstraat

Commemoration of 1918 armistice
12 November 2019

At the Indian monument
Ashoka Lions

Wreaths at the monument

Two pictures of the same from a slightly different angle

13 November 2019

I think that we all agree with these slogans
But why in English ?

15 November 2019

Temporary terminus of tram 4
No sign of any works to reconnect Moscou to the tram network !

At least at long last the works at the Sassekaai are finished
and trams can run through to UZ again

Tram 4 – Ledeberg – Gent-Zuid – Korenmarkt –
Rabot – Sint-Pieters – UZ

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue – Why so intolerant, Madrid? Turban wearers ask

Manjinder Singh Sirsa is president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and MLA from Rajouri Garden.

Madrid – Spain, 29 November 2019. Madrid airport officials reportedly asked a senior Sikh pilot to remove his turban despite metal detector clearance, provoking strong reaction from the Sikh community. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee head spoke to RT.

I was attending a family function when I got a call from Captain Simran Singh Gujral, an Air India official who sounded distressed.

He shared how he was being harassed at Madrid Airport, where officials were asking him to remove his turban; they were manhandling him and disrespecting his religious faith despite him passing the metal detector test. He sought my help in that moment.

It was 12:30 am and I immediately tweeted about the situation, seeking help from the country’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar Ji. A few minutes later, I got Captain Gujral’s message that he had been given the go-ahead at the airport but the experience had already left its scars.

Had it been a stand-alone incident, I would have forgotten about it. But such incidents happen so frequently in Europe and the US that I feel like starting a conversation around it.

Why are Sikhs treated in such a biased and racial manner despite them being the leaders in all humanitarian causes? Sikhs are the first ones to offer help to the needy; can we forget how Sikhs were the front-runners in helping the victims of the Manchester and Paris attacks?

Wherever there is a natural calamity, Sikhs reach out very first and serve food/water and medicine without any bias or agenda. If the world recognizes the selfless service of turban wearers, why are some countries still so averse to the people donning these turbans?

The world is full of people who make Sikhism and turbans famous. Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, the first Sikh deputy in Harris County, who was assassinated while doing his duty, was known for his humanitarian contributions to Texas.

He was a unifying figure in the Houston area and even the non-Sikh population mourned his death and came forward to support his family. Recently, we all saw how top leaders of the world adorned the turban as part of the 550th Parkash Purab celebrations of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Yet, the people in Europe continue to play their ignorance card when it comes to Sikhs and disrespect the turban. Western culture hasn’t accepted our turban, more because of their racist attitude, and less because of the fear element.

I have been raising my voice against such incidents for the last few years. In 2016 as well, I wrote a letter to the US ambassador regarding an incident of disrespect of the turban and a Sikh boy at a US airport. In the same year, Sikh American actor and model Waris Ahluwalia was barred from a flight for refusing to remove his turban.

The turban is a part of the Sikh identity and asking any Sikh to remove it is racial prejudice. Such incidents are happening a lot these days and it is not at all because of ignorance. First-world countries enjoy looking down on us because of our turban.

Let me share with everyone why Sikhs wear a turban: it is a blessing of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who wanted to promote equality in an era when only nobility wore turbans. So he asked his Khalsa warriors to wear turbans to reflect the fact that a Khalsa (Sikh) believes in equality and respect.

As a devout Sikh, I value my turban more than my life; quoting a famous Shabad “Sir Jaave Ta Jaave Mera Sikhi Sidak Na Jave,” which means that “I am willing to sacrifice my head; but I must not lose my Sikh way of life.” The turban is a way of life for Sikhs and I would be happy to be part of a world that accepts my turban, respects it, and reflects on the emotional commitment of Sikhs’ attire.

Dawn – 2 ASIs, 3 constables suspended for allegedly killing former councillor Waheed Anjum in Rawalpindi

Tahir Naseer

Rawalpindi – Panjab – Pakistan, 29 November 2019. Two assistant sub-inspectors (ASI) and three constables were suspended on Friday after they were nominated in a case pertaining to the killing of former councillor of Kallar Syedan Waheed Amjad in Rawalpindi, City Police Officer (CPO) Faisal Rana said.

According to a first information report (FIR) filed in the Kallar Syedan police station on the complaint of the victim’s friend on Thursday night, Amjad was stopped by the police at a roundabout while he was driving in the city.

The FIR said that Amjad had stopped his car when an ASI came near it with an SMG rifle and shot at the former councillor several times “with the intent to murder”, according to complainant Habibur Rehman.

Amjad, who was grievously injured by the shooting, was taken to the THQ hospital by the complainant, from where he was sent to DHQ hospital. Upon reaching the DHQ hospital, Amjad succumbed to his injuries.

The FIR nominated ASIs Imran Khalid, Taqdees Akhtar and constables Habib Akhtar, Azhar Mehmood and Atif Shehzad for Amjad’s killing.

CPO Rana said that following the registration of the FIR, ASI Khalid and Constable Habib were arrested by police. All five of the officials have been suspended, he added.

Earlier, Habib had filed a complaint against Amjad in the same police station. According to Habib, Amjad had failed to stop when the police signalled him to and instead hit the constable with his car, after which Taqdees shot at the former councillor.

Following Amjad’s death, residents of the area surrounded the police station and demanded that a case be registered against the suspects.