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SGPC to boycott PMs flagging off ceremony

Written by: Staff
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Amritsar, Mar 23 (UNI) The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandik Committee (SGPC) will boycott the flagging off ceremony of the Amritsar-Nankana Sahib bus service to be performed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here tomorrow.

''As the flagging off ceremony is being held at the same venue as the political rally to be organised by the Congress, we have decided not to attend the ceremony'', SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar told mediapersons here today.

''The flagging off ceremony has turned into a political function, so there was no question of attending the PMs function,'' he said while confirming that the SGPC had received an invitation from the Punjab government for the ceremony.

The PM will be paying obesiance at the Golden Temple tomorrow morning and listening to 'kirtan' at the Harmandir Sahib, the sanctum sanctorum. He will be later honoured with a 'siropa' (robe of honour) by the SGPC chief at a specially constructed 'pandal' outside the Clock Tower entrance of the shrine.

During his brief meeting with Dr Singh, the SGPC chief will present a charter of demands which include amendments in the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 so as to extend the tenure of the SGPC office bearers and the 11-member executive to two years from the present one year.

Regarding the other demands, Jathedar Avtar Singh said the SGPC would demand that the old walled city (Amritsar) should be given the status of 'Holy City'. Besides, the demand for early completion of the Golden Temple beautification plan in the 30-metre periphery of the holy shrine would also be made, he said.

The SGPC chief said they would also demand that rare manuscripts and books that were taken away by the security forces from the Sikh Reference Library of the Golden Temple during 'Operation Bluestar' in 1984 be returned to the SGPC.

Meanwhile the SGPC chief reiterated his earlier demand that a centre for obtaining visas to Pakistan should be opened at Amritsar as two bus services, to Lahore and Nankana Sahib would commence from here. He indicated that he would discuss this matter with the PM and the SGPC was ready to provide space for the visa centre.

''If need be, the SGPC will also provide free lodging to the staff of the visa centre,'' he added.It will be easy for the residents from Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and even Haryana to obtain visas to Pakistan from here rather than going all the way to Delhi.

The visa centre demand is also likely to be made by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh when he meets the PM tomorrow at the Circuit House.

UNI XC-HS VD BD1847

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