Wednesday, May 30, 2001
Badal to seek maintenance of Pak. gurdwaras by SGPC
Musharraf Visiting India
By Our Staff Correspondent
CHANDIGARH, MAY 29. The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, has said that he would meet the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister shortly to impress upon them the need to take up the issue of allowing the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to take charge of repairs and maintenance of Sikh shrines in Pakistan, when its Chief Executive, General Pervez Musharraf, visits India.
This was revealed by Mr. Badal while talking to presspersons after he presided over a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The issue has been a major point of debate and extreme positions were adopted after Pakistan formed the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to manage these shrines.
After assuming charge, the SGPC chief, Mr. Jagdev Singh Talwandi, rescinded the decision of his predecessor Bibi Jagir Kaur and allowed the visits of Sikhs pilgrims, which had been discontinued earlier. Reports have also indicated that the Pakistan Government is also willing to allow a 1.5 km corridor from the international border for Sikh devotees to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in that country, while there is no response from the Indian side.
Mr. Badal said that he would also seek the repatriation of the 28 Punjabi youth held captive in jails in Baluchistan. These youths landed in Pakistan prisons after they were alleged to have been pushed in from other countries. Reports had said that through unscrupulous travel agents these youths had gone abroad and were deported after having been arrested.
Mr. Badal also revealed that the PAC had authorised him to take a decision regarding contesting the lone Rajya Sabha seat for which elections have been announced. While various Akali leaders have been lobbying for the seat, the alliance partner, the BJP has mounted pressure that the seat is given for it to put up candidate. He said the decision would be announced by Wednesday morning.