SGPC giving religious colour to farmers' protest: BJP's Harjit Singh Grewal

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Chandigarh, Mar 10 (PTI) Senior BJP leader Harjit Singh Grewal on Wednesday accused the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex religious body of Sikhs, of going against its mandate by getting involved in the ongoing farmers' agitation and giving it a religious colour.

SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur hit back saying the religious body is well aware of its duties and that Grewal should keep his advice to himself.

In a letter to Kaur, a copy of which was released to the media, Grewal took strong exception to her recent announcement that the SGPC will set up tin sheds and provide fans for the convenience of farmers protesting at Delhi borders.

The BJP leader said, 'The prime role of the SGPC is to manage the affairs of the gurdwaras. Being a purely religious body, by getting involved in the farmers' agitation, which comprises farmers from all religions and castes, the SGPC is going completely against the mandate given to it under 'The Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925' and 'Punjab Act 8 of 1925'.' 'Not only the SGPC is going beyond its brief by doing all this but it is also giving the farmers' agitation a religious colour, which is extremely unfortunate and uncalled for,' he said.

Pointing out that Punjab has always been a volatile state, Grewal said, 'From a responsible person like you, who is holding the important chair of SGPC president, any such highly controversial statement can have serious repercussions, which could be extremely detrimental for the peace of Punjab.' 'History will not forgive you for giving a religious colour to this agitation,' he added.

Grewal, a former national secretary of the BJP, also appealed to Kaur that the SGPC should strictly desist from any such activity that brings disgrace to the religious institution and should completely stay away from the farmers' agitation.

On March 4, Kaur had said that the ongoing langar and moveable toilet facilities at protest sites will continue to operate besides announcing that the families of the deceased farmers would be given Rs 1 lakh each as a tribute to their contribution to the struggle.

Kaur in turn blamed the BJP for farmers' woes and said the SGPC is well aware of its rights and duties.

'Grewal should keep his advice with himself,' she said.

'Today, due to the arbitrary behaviour of the BJP government, farmers are on the brink of disaster. At such a time, Grewal should stand with the farmers and not question the organisations that are helping them,' the SGPC president said.

Kaur said the SGPC is following the path shown by Sikh gurus by standing with the farmers and will continue to do so in the future as well.

Farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at three border points of Delhi since November 28 last year, demanding the repeal of three farm laws enacted by the Centre and a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) for their crops. PTI VSD DIV DIV