CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda (second from left) at a press conference in Chandigarh. Jagdish Singh Jhinda, HSGPC leader (left), HS Chatha and Randeep Singh Surjewala are also seen.

Haryana Assembly clears way for separate gurdwara panel

Chandigarh: The Haryana Assembly on Friday passed a Bill paving the way for creation of a separate panel to manage gurdwaras in the state amid protests and a walkout by the Opposition.

Moved by state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala on the opening day of the monsoon session, the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Bill-2014 was opposed by BJP and INLD members right from the word go.

The legislators of the two parties staged separate walkouts dubbing the Bill as a “move to divide the Sikh community”. They were absent when it was passed by voice-vote.

Earlier, Finance Minister Harmohinder Singh Chattha made a fervent appeal to the House to pass the Bill unanimously in keeping with the sentiments of Haryana Sikhs and attacked SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar for opposing a separate SGPC for the state. “Prakash Singh Badal and Avtar Singh Makkar are misleading and threatening Haryana Sikhs,” he said.

Heated arguments erupted between the ruling and Opposition members during the discussion on the Bill with the latter dubbing it as a “ploy” to garner votes ahead of the polls. INLD’s Ashok Arora and Rampal Majra said they had reservations about the Bill. Agreeing that the Sikhs had made many sacrifices for setting up the SGPC, they said everything would go in vain if the community was divided again. They urged the government to withdraw the Bill. Arora raked up the 1984 genocide amid protests by Treasury Benches after which Speaker Kuldeep Sharma expunged the remarks.

When INLD members repeatedly tried to attack the Congress government over ’84 genocide, Treasury Benches quoted rules, urging them to stick to the Bill in question even as Surjewala asked them to abstain from “political conspiracy.”

BJP’s senior leader Anil Vij said the ruling party was “rushing through” the Bill and had not given enough time to the Opposition to study the important legislation. “The Bill was given to us at 3.23 pm and we are expected to comment on it in less than an hour. The Chattha committee report and that of the sub-committee headed by Surjewala should be tabled in the House. This is a religious issue and politics has no place in it,” he said.

However,CM BS Hooda and FM Chattha told the House that there was no politics being behind the move as the decision regarding it was taken considering sentiments and aspirations of Haryana Sikhs.

Accusing the Congress of playing caste politics, Vij said he did not want to be a part of this conspiracy to divide the Sikhs and staged a walkout with other two party MLAs.

Surjewala said Haryana Sikhs were only wanting the right for service (sewa) at gurdwaras and not demanding a separate body for control of offerings or property. “They want their own educational institutions, hospitals and medical colleges,” he said.

Source: The Tribune

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