Financial Express – Massive relief to Gurdwaras! Modi government waives GST on langar items

In a massive relief to Gurdwaras, the Narendra Modi government has decided to waive Goods and Services Tax on langar items on Thursday by providing financial assistance under ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’.

New Delhi – India, 01 June 2018. In a massive relief to Gurdwaras, the Narendra Modi government has decided to waive Goods and Services Tax on langar items on Thursday by providing financial assistance under ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’.

Under the plan, the central government has a financial outlay of Rs 325 crore through which the Central GST and central government’s share of Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) on the purchase of items by “charitable institutions for distributing free food to the public” will be re-reimbursed, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.

It was earlier reported that the Gurdwaras, popular for running community kitchen known as the “langar”, were feeling the pinch of the GST regime. At the Golden Temple complex, the Shromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee claimed to have paid nearly Rs 2 crore as GST, IANS reported in February.

“Heartfelt gratitude to PM Narendra Modi Ji for respecting Sikh sentiments by launching Seva Bhoj Yojna to refund CGST and IGST on Langar served in Gurudwaras and all other religious/charitable institutions,” Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal tweeted early on Friday.

The SGPC, which manages gurdwaras, or Sikh shrines, across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh had written to the Narendra Modi government seeking exemption on the purchase of raw materials used for langars. Gurdwaras across the country serve free food to about 10 million people on a daily basis.


Pakistan Today – People of other faith barred from accompanying Sikh pilgrims

Lahore – Panjab – Pakistan, 25 April 2018. Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) on Wednesday barred travellers belonging to non-Sikh faiths from coming along with pilgrims to celebrate their religious festivals in the country.

The ban, imposed by ETPB, implies that Muslim, Hindu and Christian devotees will not be able to enter Pakistan along with Sikh pilgrims, who visit the country in hoards to visit holy sites during Baisakhi and other religious festivals.

Hindu pilgrims will only be able to visit the country on the occasion of their religious festivals, according to the new travel restrictions.

The decision was taken after two Indian citizens went missing during Baisakhi festival. It has also been learnt that there were Christians, Hindus and Muslims among the Sikh pilgrims, who arrived on April 12.

ETPB Deputy Director Imran Gondal said that the lists of Sikh pilgrims from India are sent directly to the interior ministry rather than the board, due to which recognition of the pilgrims becomes a hurdle.

Pakistan’s Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has also protested over participation of people belonging to other religions in their rituals. India’s Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has been clearly asked to send a copy of the list of the Sikh pilgrims to the ETPB.

Meanwhile, Amritsar’s Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee head Sardar Rajinder Singh said that visa applications of the pilgrims are sent to the federal and state governments and verified by intelligence agencies.

He informed that the committee had sent only 718 pilgrims during the current tour while the other over 1,000 pilgrims came through different small travelling groups.

He also revealed that different groups take Rs 1,000 from pilgrims for Pakistan’s visa and include names without verification while the committee charges only Rs250 for visa.

He promised that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee will ensure that people from other religious groups apart from Sikhs do not visit Pakistan in the future.

The Tribune – New building to house Sikh Reference Library

Tribune News Service

Bathinda – Panjab – India, 20 April 2018. The SGPC executive committee on Friday gave nod for the construction of a new building for the Sikh Reference Library. The decision was reached at a meeting of the committee presided over by SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo.

Addressing mediapersons, Longowal said the library was ruined during the Operation Blue Star in 1984 and the Army “had taken away a lot of Sikh literature” from there. He said the library had once again turned into a treasure trove of Sikh literature following the efforts of the SGPC.

He said the new building to house the Sikh Reference Library will be constructed at the current location of Bhai Gurdas Hall in Amritsar. Along with it, a ‘sarai’ to facilitate lodging of the pilgrims will also be constructed.

Talking about other decisions, he said the SGPC would give a reward of Rs 1 lakh each to “sabat soorat” Sikh youths (having unshorn hair) making it to competitive exams like IAS and IPS. Similarly, those getting selected in the PCS will be given Rs 75,000 each.

He said Sikhs doing commendable work in science and agricultural research at the international level would also be awarded Rs 1 lakh each. – In absence of aid by Panjab government for gas cylinder blast near Amritsar; SGPC announces aid for victim families

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 26 February 2018. The apex Sikh body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee has announced to provide financial aid to the victims of gas cylinder blast incident in village Kale Ghanupur near Amritsar Sahib.

As per press note shared with Sikh24, the SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal has informed that the families of seriously injured children will be given financial aid of Rupees 50,000 while the families of other injured children will be given financial aid of Rupees 20,000.

He has said that the SGPC was committed to help the families of victim children in every possible way.

Longowal has also appealed to the administration to take suitable measures to control presence of balloon sellers in public gatherings.

It may be recalled here that on February 24 at around 03:30 pm, a blast in a gas cylinder of a balloon seller named Satnam Singh had left seven children seriously injured at an annual fair in village Kale Ghanupur (near Amritsar Sahib). Balloon seller Satnam Singh died in this blast.

Satnam Singh, of Guru Nanak Pura village, was selling gas balloons at the annual fair of Baba Darshan Singh held in the village along the national highway 1.

Gurpreet Singh, 13, was injured on his right leg; Ekampreet Singh, 5, (forehead); Lovepreet Singh, 13, (right leg was severed from body); Akashdeep Singh, 14, (right thigh); Jashandeep Singh, 10, (left leg); Amritpal Singh, 8 (face, eyes and left leg) and Sneha, 6, (left leg).

A vegetable seller, also named Satnam Singh, 32, received eye injuries. – SGPC to launch ‘One Village, One Gurdwara’ campaign in Punjab

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 24 February 2018. Speaking with Sikh24 earlier today, SGPC President Gobind Singh Longowal informed that there was a big need to eradicate the divide in Punjab’s Sikh sangat.

He expressed concern over multiple caste Gurdwaras in villages across Punjab. He said the SGPC will deal with this problem to ensure caste is not dividing the Sikhs.

The SGPC is going launch a campaign named ‘One Village, One Gurdwara’ to ensure existence of a single centralized Gurdwara Sahib in each village of Punjab,” he said.

He added that the SGPC will chalk out a solid program to encourage Sikh masses of all villages to get united at a single Gurdwara Sahib in their villages.

Expressing concern over rising count of caste based Gurdwara Sahib in villages of Punjab, Longowal said that the people hungry of name and fame establish new Gurdwara Sahib in villages to use it as their personal property.

He added that Sikhi was plaintiff of treating every human equally irrespective of caste, creed and colour but these villagers of Punjab have violated the Sikh tenets by naming Gurdwara as per caste names.

On being asked about what would be done with the vacated buildings of these Gurdwara Sahibs, Longowal said that these buildings could be used to establish general schools, kirtan and gurmat training center and libraries.

Longowal further said that the SGPC will also make an appeal to the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh to honour management committees of the Gurdwara Sahibs which will become part of this campaign. – SGPC and DSGMC to celebrate 300th Birth Anniversary of Sikh General Jassa Singh Ahluwalia

Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar Sahib-Panjab-India, 26 January 2018. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee have decided to celebrate 300th birth anniversary of the great Sikh general Jassa Singh Ahluwalia at large scale in April this year.

Special religious programs have been chalked out in this concern by the SGPC and DSGMC.

Speaking with Sikh24 on January 26, SGPC President Gobind Singh Longowal and DSGMC President Manjit Singh GK informed that a Gurmat Samagam commemorated to 300th birth anniversary of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia will be held at Gurdwara Manji Sahib Diwan Hall on April 22.

A religious procession will be commenced on April 23 which will conclude at New Delhi on April 27 after traversing various cities and towns of Punjab and Haryana on the way.

They added that programs in relation to Delhi Fateh Diwas will be held on April 27 & 28 in Delhi and Khalsa Sports Meet will be organized on April 29.

The duo leaders said that they were also making efforts to organize programs at village Ahlu of Lahore (Pakistan) which is the birth place of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.

DSGMC General Secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa said that these Sikh generals fought relentlessly to end the Mughal Empire from the present day India*. He added that the Indian President and Prime Minister will also be given invitation to attend these celebration programs.

Avtar Singh Hitt from Delhi said on this occasion that it was very unfortunate that the foreigners give so much respect to the bravery of great Sikh generals but Sikhs themselves do not make any effort to apprise our children about such bravery tales.

Budha Dal’s Chief Baba Balbir Singh, Sardar Paramjit Singh Rana, Sardar Harmeet Singh Kalka, Sardar Vijaypal Singh and others were also present on this occasion.

*From present day India ? Not from present day Pakistan ?
Man in Blue – Vaisakhi in Pakistan: SGPC seeks passports from Sikh devotees for visas

By Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar Sahib-Panjab-India, 2 January 2018. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee has appealed the Sikhs aspirant of celebrating the Vaisakhi at Gurdwara Panja Sahib (Hasan Abdal) in Pakistan, to deposit their passports by January 10.

Notably, the Pakistan High Commission grants visa to Sikh devotees to celebrate Vaisakhi at the historic Sikh shrine Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

Speaking to Sikh24, SGPC Chief Secretary Dr Roop Singh said that the interested Sikh devotees can submit their passports by January 10 along with recommendation letter attested by the SGPC members of their constituency.

He also said that the Sikh devotees should also send photocopies of their Aadhar Card, Voter Card, passport size photos and the passport valid till October 13, 2018.

Every year, thousands of Sikh devotees attend Vaisakhi celebrations at Panja Sahib. Sikh jathas from around the world also pay homage at various other historical Gurdwaras.

Gurdwara Panja Sahib is a historical gurdwara located in Hasan Abdal, Pakistan. The shrine is considered to be particularly important as the handprint of Guru Nanak Dev Ji is imprinted on a boulder at the gurdwara here.

ANI News – Former SAD MLA elected as new SGPC President

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 29 November 2017. Gobind Singh Longowal was elected as the new Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president at a general house meeting here on Wednesday.

Longowal, who is the former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA from Dhuri constituency, was elected at the annual general house meeting after he defeated his nearest rival Amrik Singh Shahpur of Dera Baba Nanak by securing 154 votes out of total 169 votes.

Gurbachan Singh Karmowala will be the new general secretary, Raghujit Singh senior-vice president, and Harpal Singh junior vice president.

The SGPC also passed a resolution to oppose the renaming of Delhi University’s Dyal Singh Majithia Evening College to Vande Matram Morning College.

Referred to as Parliament of the Sikhs, SGPC administers Harmandr Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar and is responsible for the management of gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh and the union territory Chandigarh.

The Tribune – Members empower Sukhbir Badal to take call

GS Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 28 November 2017. On the eve of the election of the SGPC president and executive committee members, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal held a meeting with party-backed SGPC members at  here today.

The members unanimously authorised Sukhbir to take the final call on the candidates. The meeting was anchored by SAD general secretary Daljit Singh Cheema.

During the one-hour closed-door meeting, it is learnt that incumbent Kirpal Singh Badungar’s work was lauded by Sukhbir, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Cheema and others. Others present included former SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar, ex-minister Tota Singh and SAD leader Balwinder Singh Bhunder.

Insiders said Badungar could be re-appointed as his tenure had remained largely free of controversy. A sealed envelope containing the new chief’s name would be opened during the general House meeting.

Sukhbir said, “As per the tradition, the members have delegated all powers to the party head. However, the presidents and the executive body will be elected by the members.”

Four members join SAD

Chandigarh: Four SGPC members, who were reportedly with the Sukhdev Singh Bhaur group, joined the SAD on Tuesday, Baba Gurmeet Singh Tirlokewala Haryana, Indermohan Singh Lakhvirwala, Surjit Singh Garhi and Nirmal Singh Johlan. The last two owed allegiance to AAP.

House composition

The SGPC General House comprises 190 members, including five Takht Jathedars (they don’t have voting rights). Of these, 170 members are elected from constituencies in Punjab, Haryana and HP. The existing body has 157 SAD-backed members.

The Times of India – Hectic lobbying for SGPC president’s post

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 26 November 2017. Hectic lobbying is on for the post of the 42nd president of Sikhs’ single largest representative body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the election for which is scheduled to be held on November 29.

Incumbent Kirpal Singh Badungar, Avtar Singh Makkar and Jagir Kaur, both former presidents of SGPC, religio-political leader Balbir Singh Ghunas, former minister Tota Singh and former MP Sewa Singh Sekhwan are considered to be in race for the top post.

The key to the post lies with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Sources in the party told TOI that both Makkar and Badungar had developed strained relations at one point of their tenure as SGPC presidents with the top leadership of Akali Dal.

Insiders say that the party is interested in some religious personality who could coordinate well with the jathedars of Takhts, temporal seats of Sikhs. Sources informed that party could seriously consider Ghunas, who belongs to Mastuana Sampardaya, and is a staunch politician and head of a prominent gurdwara.

At the same time, Tota and Sekhwan have a long political career and could help SAD make its grip stronger on Panthic votes and help the party in the next assembly elections in 2022.

Meanwhile, Sehajdhari Sikh Party (SSP) president Paramjit Singh Ranu alleged that election of SGPC president was being held in violation of the Supreme Court (SC) judgment and the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

“According to SC judgment, the term of SGPC got over in December 2016. Instead of calling for fresh elections to the general house to be organized by the Union home ministry, the SGPC is going to elect its new president. This is illegal and unconstitutional,” he said.

The SGPC general house was elected in September 2011, and its term as per Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, was for five years and thus ended in December 2016, said Ranu.

“Due to pendency of the voting rights issue in the SC, the elected house became defunct and a 15-member executive committee of the SGPC headed by its former president Avtar Singh Makkar was allowed by the court to work as caretaker,” he said.

He said the NDA government at the Centre amended the Sikh Gurdwara Act in May 2016, debarring the Sehajdharis to vote in the SGPC elections. SSP had challenged the amendment in Punjab and Haryana high court.

“Already another petition is pending in the court where the Union government has filed a reply that they have started the process for election to the general house. Then why is it allowing the SGPC to hold its presidential election now,” asked Ranu.