AMRITSAR SAHIB—Construction responsibilities for the expansion of the existing building of the Guru Ramdas Langar Hall within the Darbar Sahib complex, have been awarded to a private contractor rather than to Kar Seva (voluntary construction organisations). Opponents of the move say it is a violation of the Sikh way of life.
SGPC President Avtar Makkar said that the construction work has begun now, and the objections will be kept in mind for the next time.
Akal Takht appointed Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh had also expressed his helplessness on the matter. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new building was done in July 2011, when five Singh Sahibs, Parkash Badal, and Avtar Makkar were also present.
At the time, a picture was taken in which Badal was sitting on a chair, next to Giani Gurbachan Singh who was sitting on the ground—this picture became the issue of the moment, overshadowing the Langar Hall construction contract.
On this event, the SGPC estimated the expenditure of approximately ₹200 million for the expansion of the Langar hall. Two and a half years later, when the committee began the construction of this building on 1 December 2013 , the laying down the foundation stone by Sikh personalities was not deemed necessary.
Surprisingly, for the construction of this building the private contractor that was hired is non-Sikh and reports say he does not cover his head while working, as is required within the complex.
SGPC member and Guru Hargobind Dhadi Assembly President Baldev Singh, MA first objected to the construction plans by writing the SGPC chief that the concept of Kar sewa has been forgotten. He also wrote that Sikh volunteers would recite and meditate on “satnam waheguru” while doing construction.
He alleged that some of the private contractors have established temporary accommodations within the construction site and the consumption of tobacco has also been viewed—a sacrilege within the confines of the holy walls. He demanded that the committee should pay attention to the workers and actions need to be taken immediately regarding sacrilegious acts.
When Baldev Singh received no answer from the SGPC he gave a written protest to Giani Gurbachan Singh. And lastly, S. Baldev Singh made the Sikh congregations aware of this violation of the Sikh Code of Conduct by pasting posters throughout the holy city.
On February 1, a meeting was held at the Akal Takht Sahib, today Sikh Youth protested by riding 11 motorcycles in various parts of the city. On 8 February in Bhai Gurdas Hall a seminar is being conducted on this issue in which speakers will present their views.