DW BUREAU / AMRITSAR
Putting to rest the controversies and politicking over the issue, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh on Monday said only the SGPC will set up the main stage to hold religious events at Sultanpur Lodhi during the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev next month. However, he welcomed a separate stage by the Punjab government at Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala, stressing that it should only be used for spreading the message of the Sikh guru, instead of political speeches.
The decision of the highest temporal seat of Sikhs came amid a deadlock between the Punjab government and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee over the issue of the joint celebrations.
Talking to the media here, the Jathedar said the SGPC had been directed to make arrangements for the stage at Gurdwara Ber Sahib in Sultanpur Lodhi as per Sikh tenets.
“It will be a common stage for all,” asserted the Jathedar, adding that the SGPC chief was directed to welcome all political and religious leaders besides government officials without any prejudice.
“Representatives of any political party are welcome at the main programme being organised by the SGPC,” he said. The Jatehdar also asked the Punjab government to join the main religious event being organised by the apex gurdwara body from November 1 to 12.
On October 15, the state government had offered to hold functions at Sultanpur Lodhi under the aegis of the Akal Takht and with the support of the SGPC to break the logjam over the joint celebrations.
The SGPC has decided to hold the main event at a stadium near Gurdwara Ber Sahib in Sultanpur Lodhi on November 12 while the state government wanted to hold the function near a “tent city” coming up there. The rift between the Sikh body and the government had widened after the former decided to set up its own stage at Sultanpur Lodhi.
A war of words had erupted between Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on the issue. Amarinder Singh had even accused SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal of creating obstacles in the way of coordination between the state government and the SGPC for the joint celebrations.