Chandigarh: The Shiromani Akali Dal Monday warned the Congress against a conspiracy to weaken the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) by trying to create a separate Sikh body to take control of gurdwaras in Haryana.
The Akali Dal said the SGPC is an apex body for the management of Sikhs shrines in India and is governed by an act of parliament.
The Congress was trying to divide the Sikhs of Haryana keeping in view the assembly electionlater this year, Punjab Education Minister and Akali Dal spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said in a statement here.
He said Congress leaders such as Capt. Amarinder Singh are adding fuel to the fire by supporting the move to create a separate body to manage Sikh shrines in Haryana.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is likely to make the announcement for a separate gurdwara parbandhak (managing) committee for the state at a scheduled Sikh convention to be held in Kaithal town July 6.
The Haryana government is studying legal and religious provisions for setting up the separate managing body for gurdwaras in the state. If the Hooda government goes ahead with its move, then SGPC, which has a budget of over Rs.950 crore annually, will lose control over Sikh shrines in Haryana.
The SGPC, known as the mini-parliament of Sikh religion, manages 72 gurdwaras in Haryana. The SGPC controls majority of the gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of all Sikh shrines 'Harmandar Sahib' (popularly known as Golden Temple) in Amritsar.
Gurdwaras in Delhi are managed by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).
Cheema said it has become a habit of Hooda to raise the issue for a separate Sikh body each time when election is approaching.
"But every time the Sikhs in Haryana had failed his evil designs to divide the Sikh community," Cheema said, adding that the SGPC had been constituted after a lot of sacrifices by the Sikh community.
"The government in Haryana is illegally and unconstitutionally trying to break it. The Akali Dal is well aware of the evil design of the Congress and will not allow the division at any cost," Cheema said.
Leaders of the SGPC and the Akali Dal met Home Minister Rajnath Singh last week to urge the Centre to stop the Haryana government from announcing a separate gurdwara body.
A section of Sikh leaders from Haryana led by former SGPC member Jagdish Singh Jhinda has been demanding a separate Sikh body for shrines in Haryana.
The gurdwaras in Haryana contribute over Rs.100 million to the SGPC coffers annually.
The Hooda government had set up a committee seven years ago to see if a separate Sikh body was feasible for the state.