The Maharashtra government's recent decision to amend the Nanded Sikh Gurudwara Sachkhand Sri Hazur Apchalnagar Sahib Act, 1956, has ignited criticism from various quarters, notably from Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Harjinder Singh Dhami.
Describing it as "sad, condemnable, and a direct interference" in Sikh affairs, Dhami has now written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, seeking an appointment to discuss this issue, reported Indian Express.
Built by Maharaja Ranjit Singhji, Takhat Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib is the main Gurudwara of Nanded and is one of the five high seats of authority of the Sikhs.
Situated in Nanded Town, this is the place where Shri Guru Gobind Singhji is believed to have breathed his last.
Understanding The Amendment
The Gurudwara Sachkhand Board, Nanded, oversees the management of the Takhat Hazur Sahib.
Governed by the 1956 Act, the board manages significant assets and holds considerable authority.
The recent amendment alters the composition of the board significantly.
While the previous arrangement comprised members from diverse backgrounds, the new amendment increases the Maharashtra government's direct control over appointments.
According to the new amendment, out of 17 members, 12 will be directly nominated by the Maharashtra government, three will be elected, and the SGPC can now nominate only two.
Critics argue that the amendment will grant undue influence to the ruling party, enabling it to stack the board with its own appointees.
This move has also raised concerns about political interference in religious affairs.
In 2015, the BJP-led Maharashtra government had curtailed the board's autonomy by amending Section 11 of the 1956 Act, granting itself the power to directly appoint the board's president, a role previously filled by board members through election.
The move sparked protests from the SGPC, but the amendment proceeded nonetheless, leading to the appointment of a government nominee as board president.
Nayan Dwivedi is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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