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.

Advertisements – 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.

The Hindustan Times – SAD considering Tota Singh, Ghunas for SGPC chief’s post

The annual meeting to elect the SGPC president is scheduled for November 29.

Gurpreet Singh Nibber

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 24 November 2017. In its search for a suitable leader to head the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is now considering names of Tota Singh and Sant Balbir Singh Ghunas.

The SAD has a majority in the General House of the cash-rich body, in which 170 members come through elections. The annual meeting to elect the SGPC president is scheduled for November 29.

Former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur and Akali leaders Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Rajinder Singh Mehta and Amarjeet Singh Chawla are already vying for the top post, but the party is not very keen to give any of them the coveted post, sources said.

Meanwhile, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has already started meeting SGPC members to discuss with them the issues related to the functioning of the gurdwara body, and also who will be the right choice to head it.

On Thursday, Sukhbir held a meeting in Chandigarh with at least 80 SGPC members from 11 districts of Punjab, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh. He will meet the remaining members on Friday, followed by a meeting with the core committee members of SAD and party MLAs.

The party is looking for a rural face, who can handle the core job of SGPC with religio-political finesse and run the body with focus on management of gurdwaras and ‘dharam parchar’ (religious propaganda). They want the Sikh clergy and various ‘sampardays’ (sects) work in coordination with the committee.

The SAD is seen as lacking in handling of certain Panthic issues after the era of Gurcharan Singh Tohra as SGPC president. Also, after a series of sacrilege incidents two years ago, the party is losing grip over its Panthic constituency and looking for resurgence via the SGPC.

Tota a Taksali Akali

Tota Singh, 75, known as a Taksali Akali in Sikh politics, had twice served as cabinet minister under Parkash Singh Badal government after the SAD came to power in Punjab in 1997 and 2012. At present, he is senior vice-president of SAD and is among the few old-timers in the party.

He has also worked as senior vice-president and general secretary of SGPC under Tohra’s tenure.

Besides, he wields influence among the Sikh diaspora in various foreign countries, particularly Canada. However, Tota Singh was convicted in a case of misuse of official car while being a minister. Also, the party is wary that he may not be able to handle the ticklish issues concerning SGPC.

Ex-MLA Ghunas heads Mastuana ‘samparday’

Sant Balvir Singh Ghunas, 60, is another name that party is considering to head SGPC, who is a three-time former MLA and also member of SGPC. He is associated with Mastuana ‘samparday’ and is head of Gurdwara Gursagar Sahib, Mastuana, in Sangrur district. However, Ghunas never held any important portfolio in the party or the SGPC.

Taking feedback says Sukhbir Badal

“I am meeting all SGPC members to take a feedback. So far, we have not finalised any name. At this juncture, I can’t comment on the probable candidate,” Sukhbir told HT. One of his close aides said incumbent chief Kirpal Singh Badungar is also trying for a second term.

Sources said former SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar from whom Badungar took over last year is also lobbying for the post. He recently met SAD patron and former CM Parkash Singh Badal in this regard. – SGPC Condemns High Court Notice Over Harjinder Singh Dilgeer’s Excommunication

Sikh24 Editors

Anandpur Sahib-Panjab-India, 14 November 2017. Speaking with Sikh24 earlier today, SGPC President Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar clarified that the no court possessed the right to challenge the supremacy of Takht Jathedars. His words were in reference to the Punjab & Haryana High Court notice to the SGPC in relation to a petition moved by H S Dilgeer against Takht Jathedars.

Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar further said that the SGPC will lodge reply to the Court after receiving the notice.

The Punjab & Haryana High Court bench headed by Justice Rajan Gupta had issued notice to the apex Sikh body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on November 13 asking it to lodge reply till November 29 about excommunication of Sikh historian Harjinder Singh Dilgeer.

H S Dilgeer had moved a petition in the Punjab & Haryana High Court against his excommunication by the SGPC appointed Takht Jathedars. In the petition, Dilgeer had claimed that four out of the total five Takht Jathedars were not having any right to excommunicate anyone from the Sikh community.

He also said in the petition that the duty of Takht Jathedars was only to ensure proper imposition of Sikh code of conduct and they can’t address any political verdict.

H S Dilgeer was excommunicated by the SGPC appointed Takht Jathedars after Sikh intellectuals had objected over some of his articles and complaints in this concern were sent to Sri Akal Takht Sahib authorities.

Initially, Dilgeer was summoned at Sri Akal Takht Sahib but he didn’t appear before the Takht Jathedars following which he was excommunicated.

Dilgeer’s work came to prominence after he worked under the SGPC to work on a Sikh encyclopedia. He also penned a book on Sikh martyrs from the 1980s. However, very recently, his work has included much controversy, where he has targeted organizations like the Damdami Taksal and challenged its authenticity.