Sunday, November 18, 2007

SGPC may withdraw dossier on Darbar Sahib

BY Rashmi Talwar
Amritsar, April 20, ---------The dossier to declare Darbar Sahib as world heritage site is likely to be withdrawn by the SGPC executive meeting, scheduled to be held here tomorrow. According to highly placed sources in the SGPC, the chief has already got the ‘green signal’ from the Shiromani Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal to recommend immediate withdrawal of the dossier on the basis of steep division in the community the world over . While majority of the executive members will recommend the withdrawal of the dossier , Bibi Kiranjot Kaur , an executive member who had coordinated preparation of the voluminous document, will give a dissenting note. On her return from Pakistan, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur said at least six members of the executive body were the same who had earlier passed the dossier during the presidentship of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar. She said it was shocking that certain persons, close to SGPC chief, had described the dossier as ‘deep-rooted conspiracy’ to denigrate Sikhism. She said Mr Badungar should come out openly in favour of the dossier as it was he who had given the ‘go-ahead’ to the document. The SGPC’s general secretary Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, and some members from Haryana are likely to support Bibi Kiranjot Kaur on this issue. Mr Bhaur had already announced that the required amendments should be made in the dossier. Cautioning the SGPC and SAD against showing “undue haste” in withdrawal of dossier, the SAD(A) suggested that intra-party politics should not overshadow a golden opportunity for Sikhism to get WHS status. In an urgent message to the Union Home Minister, Mr Shivraj Patil, and in an open letter to Mr Badal, Prof Jagmohan Singh and Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, both general secretaries of SAD (A) while endorsing the dossier as a comprehensive document to bring Darbar Sahib, the first Sikh shrine on the world heritage map, said discussions and debate could bring about a consensus on minor changes. Significantly the party pointed out that according to guidelines of UNESCO, the Government of India was only authorised to withdraw the dossier once submitted. They demanded immediate intervention by the Home Ministry to hold discussions on the issue. Hitting out at critics of the dossier and in view of possible rejection of it at the SGPC, the SAD (A) stated that contrary to objections, out of a total of 788 world heritage sites, as many as 278 were religious in nature, including 50 relating to Christianity, evangelists (7), Eastern Orthodox Church (21), Protestants (5), Judaism (7), Islam (18), Buddhist (30), Hinduism (15), Confucianism (17) and indigenous beliefs (35). Expressing doubts over the intentions of the SGPC in not allowing widespread discussion, the party decried the soft stand taken by the Jathedar of Akal Takht on such vital issue and urged him to call a meeting of various Sikh bodies to reach a consensus.

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