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Withdraw Sikh Gurdwaras Bill or face stir: SGPC chief tells Punjab govt

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AMRITSAR, June 26 (PTI): SGPC chief Harjinder Singh Dhami on Monday warned that an agitation will be launched against the AAP-led Punjab government if the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was not withdrawn.

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Dhami also slammed chief minister Bhagwant Mann, accusing him of interfering in SGPC matters and trying to implement the “anti-Sikh thinking” of AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal with a motive of “capturing” the SGPC.

Dhami was addressing a special general house session of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) here against the state government’s move of bringing the bill.

The Punjab Assembly on June 20 had passed the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which is aimed at ensuring free telecast of Gurbani from the Golden Temple.

Addressing SGPC members here, Dhami, while condemning the Bill, asked the Punjab government to withdraw it immediately.

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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 and then it will be the responsibility of the state government, he said

Dhami said any amendment in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 can be made only with the approval of a two-third majority of SGPC members.

The SGPC chief asserted that neither the Centre nor the Punjab government has any right to amend the law.

On Mann’s charge that Dhami was being dictated by SAD leaders, the SGPC chief said he cannot be dictated.

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Taking a swipe at Mann, Dhami said the chief minister speaks what he is asked to say by Kejriwal.

“It is not happening like this. It is the conspiracy of ‘Babu’ Kejriwal”, said Dhami while apparently referring to the Bill.

Mann on Sunday had slammed the SGPC chief for his meeting with the SAD leaders and had said Dhami would announce an already “decided verdict” on opposing the bill.

SGPC member Jaswant Singh Prain asked the SGPC to make its agreement with the PTC channel public.

Currently, Gurbani is broadcast from the Sikh shrine by PTC, a private channel often linked to the Badal family.

The SGPC has been opposing the bill, claiming the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 can only be amended by Parliament.

 

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