While the city of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh has continued to remain tense after riots broke out this past weekend, the SGPC, along with the Shiromani Akali Dal (B), have been watching the scenes of violence as mute spectators to the most part. Where the apex Sikh Gurdwara Committee was swift in sending its “troops” to Haryana, why hasn’t the same action been taken to protect Gurdwaras and properties owned by Sikhs in Uttar Pradesh?
The role of SGPC is not limited to management of Gurdwaras anymore, and neither is its jurisdiction limited to that of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal. The SGPC is the global body of the Sikhs, and as claimed by its members, it works for the betterment of Sikhs living worldwide. While it might not have control over the Singh Sabha Gurdwara that was attacked in UP, as a Sikh elected organization with members from all over India, isn’t it also a responsibility of the SGPC to send its forces to safeguard Gurdwaras across India when needed? The SGPC has tried to establish bases even outside of India, in countries like Nepal, Pakistan, and even the United States of America. However, in India itself, it is not playing a justifiable role in protecting the rights and safety of Sikhs.
In Saharanpur, Sikhs have already suffered great losses. A large number of shops and businesses owned were targeted by mobs, and some properties owned by Sikhs were put on fire and completely destroyed. Where Sikh families in Uttar Pradesh are mourning the loss of lives, and trying to provide medical care to those who were injured, a number of them have no idea how to recover from the financial loses they have suffered. At the same time, they fear that the attacks could revive and elevate at any time. A local Muslim group had alleged that if Sikhs start construction over the land located adjacent to the Gurdwara, they would launch fresh attacks. During this time, it makes sense for the SGPC to send the Task Force to Uttar Pradesh to ensure no further attacks take place against the Sikhs.
The SGPC Task Force has been in the highlights a lot recently. Just a few weeks ago, it had dispatched a number of its activists to control the Gurdwaras in Haryana. The Task Force had also come into picture during the June 6 clash at Sri Akal Takht Sahib when large number of its employees clashed with the Sikh youth, and prevented them from entering the sanctum of Sri Akal Takht Sahib. Then again, it was not too long ago when the SGPC Task Force displayed its might and forcibly took over control of Bhai Rupa Gurdwara’s land. The Punjab Police has supported actions of the Task Force, as it was seen just days ago when Jhinda and his associates were barred from entering the Akal Takht Sahib.
In addition to the SGPC task force, a number of leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (B), including Parkash Badal and Bibi Jagir Caur also pledged to give ‘shaheedi’ in order to maintain the supremacy of the SGPC. Where are these leaders now when Sikhs are being attacked in broad day light by mobs backed by Government officials in Uttar Pradesh? Is this not a time to stand up for the Panth? Does the SGPC Task Force only take action against other Sikhs, or when the ‘golaks’ or Gurdwara financials are involved?
While it is commendable that the Akali Dal has sought compensation from the local Government, it is also the responsibility of the Center Government to ensure financial loses are covered entirely. During this time of crisis, the Shiromani Akali Dal needs to work with the BJP Government and ensure justice to the Sikhs.