Last week, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann urged the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to permit the state government to install advanced broadcast and communication technologies at the Golden Temple while saying that the government was capable to assist in the dissemination of Sarb Sanji Gurbani across the globe, as reported here.
This came as the latest development in a row over broadcasting of Harmandir Sahib’s Gurbani, the telecasting rights of which are held by a private channel owned by a prominent political family of Punjab. Some of the top executives of the channel are alleged to have been embroiled in a scandal since last month.
As per this report, police have said that the managers of the private channel have been found involved in the exploitation of young girls through the “Miss Punjaban” pageant. The scandal had come to light after a warrant officer appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court had “rescued” a beauty pageant contestant from the “illegal custody” of the contest organisers on March 15, as reported here.
Post the revelations, the Kendri Singh Sabha had appealed to Akal Takht officiating Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh that the channel had lost its moral right to broadcast the holy Gurbani from Golden Temple. It was reported on March 30 that Akal Takht, located in the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple), had directed the SGPC to launch its own channel for the live telecast of Gurbani worldwide.
Other voices of discontent against the private channel included SGPC member and former general secretary Bibi Kiranjot Kaur who questioned, “How can the upholders of the Sikh Maryada continue to allow telecast rights to a channel that faces such serious charges?” Further, she said “Kirtan is not anyone’s property, definitely not of a private channel facing charges. Taking a moral ground, we need to end the contract.”
Thereafter, SGPC president Harjinder Singh Dhami confirmed that “the Akal Takht has directed the SGPC to launch its own channel for the worldwide live telecast of Gurbani.” However, he added, “We need a corpus of at least Rs 200 crores for establishing studios and requisite infrastructure” but “since it is Akal Takht’s order, we will definitely comply with it.”
Commentators who observe the politics and society of Punjab are of the view that these developments should be seen in the context of the unprecedented election results of the Punjab assembly.
In the elections, the Aam Aadmi Party had won 92 assembly segments out of a total of 117 with 42.3 per cent vote share. The Congress won 18 and the Akali Dal won three seats.
Political commentators also hold that this is likely to have a spillover effect in the next elections to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). At present, the Akali Dal has 160 out of the total of 191 members in the committee.
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