Chandigarh, April 4 ; Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today opposed the Maharashtra Government imposed Chief of Management Board of the Takhat Sri Huzoor Sahib, Nanded against the Sikh maryada (code of religious ethics).
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Badal apprised him that this move on the part on the Maharashtra government was in complete violation of the highly venerated Sikh Maryada and was likely to gravely hurt the religious sentiments of Sikhs all over the world. He described this decision as “extremely unfortunate, anti-Sikh and direct interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs.
Seeking the personal and direct intervention of Prime Minister, the Chief Minister urged Mr. Modi to direct the Maharashtra Government to review and completely reverse its decision to appoint a non-baptised person, Tara Singh, ( a BJP legislator) as the Chief of Management Board of the Takhat Sri Huzoor Sahib, Nanded immediately, without any delay. Mr. Badal drew PM’s attention over an issue of great sensitivity to brave and patriotic Sikh community all over the world, which related to the action of the Maharashtra government to appoint a non-baptised person, Tara Singh, ( a BJP legislator) as the Chief of Takhat Sri Huzoor Sahib. Mr. Badal said that there was neither religious sanctity nor administrative logic behind this move. As a matter of fact, this was completely avoidable provocation that could have a bearing on the precious ideals of communal harmony in the country.
Against this backdrop, Mr. Badal apprehended that the decision to appoint a non-baptised Sikh as Chief of a Board to manage the affairs of the holy Takhat associated with the life and teachings of the Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh ji Maharaj, was fraught with danger as it seriously offends the basic religious Maryada of the Khalsa Panth, according to which only a baptized Sikh can hold such a sensitive assignment. It was unthinkable for the Sikh masses to see a non-baptised person heading a holy religious Takhat of their community, added Mr. Badal.
Mr. Badal further mentioned that the present development was an off-shoot of the decision of the previous Congress government in Maharashtra to drastically reduce the representation of the supreme Sikh religious parliament, the SGPC, and the iconic Sikh heritage body, the Chief Khalsa Diwan, on the historic Takhat Sri Huzoor Sahib, Sri Abchalnagar Sahib, Nanded, Board. That decision had been received by the Sikh community with utter shock and disbelief. “We have been pleading with the Governments of India and Maharashtra to get this brazen interference in Sikh religious affairs undone”, added Mr. Badal.
The Chief Minister pointed out that the Holy Takhat Sri Huzoor Sahib was one of the five highest seats of religious authority in Sikh religion from where the community gets its spiritual, temporal and moral strength, the other four being Sri Akal Takhat Sahib( Amritsar) Takhat Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Sri Ananadpur Sahib, Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, and Takhat Sri Patna Sahib in Bihar.
Further, the Management Board of Takhat Sri Huzoor Sahib was constituted through the Huzoor Sahib Abchal Nagar Sahib Nanded Board Act, 1956, in fulfillment of the demands of the Sikh community to free the Gurdwara Sahib from people who were found guilty of carrying out many anti-Sikh practices. The arrangement had lasted peacefully for the past 59 years. Never was a need felt for bringing any change in the format of the Board as the management of religious and organizational affairs was always smooth and in consonance with the philosophy and teachings of the Great Gurus .A special care was taken to ensure that nothing was done in direct or indirect violation of Sikh religious traditions and practices as contained in the Maryada.
The Chief Minister however stated that the previous Congress government in Maharashtra embarked upon a totally unnecessary and provocative move. A curious aspect of this move was the decision to reduce the number representatives of the SGPC from the previous 4 to just 1 (One). The representation of the Chief Khalsa Diwan, an iconic historic body , was curtailed. This was despite the fact that the actual total number of the members of the Board has been increased from 17 to 21. Obviously, this not only defies all logic but also smacks of a brazen conspiracy to encourage and promote governmental interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs with the clear objective of weakening the community by eroding the authority of its highest religious institutions.
The Chief Minister asserted that this decision actually played havouc with a long-standing national consensus on governmental non-interference in religious affairs of the community. The consensus was sealed through a formal agreement between the first Prime Minister of the country,Late Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sikh religio-political leader, Master Tara Singh ji. The agreement was popularly known as Nehru-Tara Singh Pact. It specifically and categorically states that no decision affecting the religious affairs of the Sikhs would be taken by any government without the prior consent of the majority of the SGPC.
Mr. Badal said, “I am pained to observe here that the Congress party has always been engaged in conspiracies to weaken or dilute the authority of the Sikh religious institutions by either disbanding the SGPC and replacing it with a government controlled board or by capturing power in the organization through a back-door entry. The Sikh masses have always resented, resisted and defeated all such attempts”.
Mr. Badal further said that the Sikh community expected the new governments at the center and in Maharashtra to put a permanent end to the policy of government interference in its religious affairs rather than allowing it to continue by basing decisions on an anti-Sikh legislation, as in the present case.
The Chief Minister reiterated his request to Mr. Modi for getting this decision reversed at the earliest and also urged that our petitions regarding the denial of representation to the SGPC and Chief Khalsa Diwan on the Management Board of the holy Takhat Huzoor Sahib, Abchal Nagar Sahib, also be reviewed and the earlier system restored.
Mr. Badal also demanded in all such matters pertaining to the religious affairs of the Sikhs, decisions must be taken only in consultation with and after prior consent of the elected religious parliament of the Sikhs, the SGPC. This would be in consonance with the national consensus on the issues as embodied in Nehru-Tara Singh pact.