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    Posted on 15 November 2012
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    DELHI

    Political slugfest turns bloody inside Sikh shrine

    Divisions over proposed amendment to Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Act resurface, violence leaves four injured

    Tehelka Bureau
    New Delhi

    A screengrab of the video of the violence at the Sikh shrine in Delhi

    The 229-year-old Rakabganj Gurudwara close to the Parliament House in Central Delhi witnessed bloodshed inside its holy premises after two factions got into a brawl. One of the factions owed allegiance to Akali Dal renegade Paramjit Sarna, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC). The other owed allegiance to Manjit Singh, president of the Delhi Shiromani Akali Dal (DSAD). Singh is one of those who sustained major knife injuries in the violence inside the gurudwara. Reports suggest that men used their kirpans and threw bricks at each other. Four people are reported to be injured, two among which have been admitted in serious condition to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

    Violence erupted after two rival factions entered into a heated discussion over an amendment to the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Act, 1971. The amendment introduced by the Sheila Dikshit-led Delhi government proposes to raise the tenure of the governing council of Delhi’s gurudwaras from two to four years. The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara (Amendment) Act 2012 also provides for direct election to the post of president of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Committee. The amendment is being fiercely opposed by Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and his son and the Deputy CM of Punjab Sukhbir Badal.

    The Badals have asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene and termed the amendment ‘an interference’ by the Congress government in Delhi into the religious affairs of the Sikhs. The group led by Sarna, meanwhile, has been supporting the tweaking of election rules saying that Sikhs across the Capital would stand to benefit. The Sarna faction is accused by the Akali Dal faction of being in cohorts with the Congress and trying to undermine the Golden Temple headquartered Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee.

    Even though the Delhi Police was quick to react and control the violence, there are fears that the bitter division between the factions could turn into a law and order problem. These fears are exacerbated by the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled that elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Committee must be completed by 31 December 2012.

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    Posted on 15 November 2012
 

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