Punjab

Sham Singh elected Pakistan Gurdwara panel head for third time

Chanchal Manohar Singh | December 20, 2014 07:05 PM
Sham Singh, President of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC)
Chanchal Manohar Singh

 Sham Singh, 78 (Born on December 11, 1936), has been elected President of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) for one year term for the third time. He was unanimously elected as president at theelection held at Nanakana Sahib last week. 

For the last two and a half years, the post of president was lying vacant

Confirming the election of Sham Singh, the ETPB chairman Siddique-ul-Farooq said Sham Singh was appointed as the head of the PSGPC as he was not only an old and trusted Sikh leader of Pakistan, but was also suited to their policies and programmes. 

Tara Singh and Amarjeet Singh were elected as Vice Presidents and Gopal Singh Chawla, as General Secretary. The members of the Executive Committee are: Sahib Singh, Tara Singh, Suran Singh, Amarjeet Singh, Bhagat Singh, Maninder Singh Arora, Ramesh Singh, MPA, Bishan Singh. 

Sham Singh is an agriculturist from 62 Chak, Kadrabad, Ukara tehsil of Mintgmri (Faislabad). Both of his children son Sikandar Singh and daughter Simran kaur live in Pakistan. He has been active in Sikh religious functions and has also participated in Muslim, Hindu, Christian and  Sikh inter-faith meetings organized in Lahore and other cities of Pakistan. He has been involved in the arrangements for the stay of Sikh pilgrims from India to celeberate Gurpurbs and other purabs  celeberated in the Sikh religions.

Sham Singh who studied upto fifth class in the primary school in his village is a baptized Sikh and well versed with Sikh scripturtes and sikh history. 

 In 1998, Pakistan Government decided to hand over management of the Sikh Gurdwaras to a Sikh Management Committee for organsing the Gurpurbs of Sikh Gurus and also to handed over management of Sikh shrines to   Pakistan Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (PGPC). Mr Gian Chand, a clean-shaven Nanakpanthi was appointed the first President of this committee and he nominated other Nanakpanthis on the management committee.

The Sikhs living in Pakistan objected to the appointment of clean-shaven Nanakpanthi on the PGPC. Sham Singh was in the forfront to oppose the appointment of clean-shaven persons to manage the affairs of the Sikh shrines in Pakistan. Sham Singh even demanded that the name of committee be changed to Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (PSGPC). Within two months, the Pakistan Government accepting the plea of Sham Singh changed its name as PSGPC and appointed Sham Singh as its first President. 

Sham Singh talking from Lahore to Punjabkhabar.com on telephone confirmed that he attended the two-day congregation December 4-5, on the first day (Thursday) of outlawed Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) held on December 4, 2014 at historical Minar-e-Pakistan ground in Lahore. Sham Singh attended the congregation as a Sikh and but says is in no way associate with the activities of JuD. He said Hindu, Sikh, Muslims and Christian attend each other’s function if invited. In the same he says he also attended the JuD’s conference. He said he had earlier also attended the JuD confrences held in Pakistan. 

On the second day i.e. Friday at this congregation HuD chief Hafiz Muhammand Saeed told his supporters that Pakistanis should come forward and help the Kashmiris in getting "freedom" from India.

Hafiz Muhammand Saeed is the main accused in the Mumbai attack of 2008. India had given enough proof to Pakistan Government against Hafiz Saeed for his direct involvement in Mumbai attack five years ago. India wants him to be tried in India to which till date the Government of Pakistan has not agreed.

Infact, Hafiz Saeed issue is  bone of contention in the cordial and peaceful relations between India and Pakistan. 

 The PSGPC was formed to mark the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa Panth by the then President of Pakistan. 

The office of the PSGPC was opened in the main building of Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, but it was closed after a year. The committee was disbanded and Sham Singh was made president. Notwithstanding tall claims, Pakistan’s aukaf board failed to finalise the constitution of the PSGPC even after four years of its formation. Elections have never been held to elect the body in a democratic way. 

However, the then SGPC, Amritsar President Jagir Kaur objected to the appointment of Sham Singh as president and douted his credential as of devout Sikh. 

She raised the demand that the management of Sikh Shrines in Pakistan be handed over to the SGPC, Amritsar. The Pakistan authorities did not pay any heed to her demand. 

Jagir Kaur’s demand reflected the interference in the sovereignty of Pakistan because Sikh gurdwaras and agriculture land and other properties attached with them are evacuee properties and belong to the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) of Pakistan. 

As a reaction, in 1999 Jagir Kaur stopped sending Sikh Jathas to Pakistan for pilgrimage. 

Notably, before the formation of the PSGPC on April 11, 1999, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar, used to manage a  few Gurdwaras in Pakistan, which had been  opened to Indian pilgrims for paying obeisance. 

Sham Singh’s request for an Indian Visa to pay obeisance at Darbar Sahib, Golden Temple, has been rejected more than once. He still expreses his desire to pay a obeisance at the Golden Temple.

Confirming the election of Sham Singh, the ETPB chairman Siddique-ul-Farooq said Sham Singh was appointed as the head of the PSGPC as he was not only an old and trusted Sikh leader of Pakistan, but was also suited to their policies and programmes. 

Farooq expressed hope that after the PSGPC elections, a major plan for the development of Gurdwaras in Pakistan and restoration of Sikh architecture would be carried out. Earlier, ETPB had constituted an 11-member committee of PSGPC to run daily affairs of Gurdwaras. Other Sikh leaders of Pakistan, who were running for the top position included PSGPC’s former president Bishan Singh and Gopal Singh Chawla chairman of the Punjabi Sikh Sangat.

There are more than 172 historical Sikh Shrines in Pakistan but Pakistan allows Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit couple of them. 

However, after the formation of the PSGPC, the then president of the SGPC, Jagir Kaur, stopped sending jathas (groups of pilgrims) to Pakistan.

It was Paramjit Singh Sarna, President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management, who took the initiative and led Sikh jathas to Pakistan on pilgrimage. Thus, the visits continued. 

However, the SGPC has lifted the boycott after Jagir Kaur was removed and Avtar Singh Makkar appointed. Jagir Kaur was removed from Presidentship for her alleged involvement in the murder of her daughter who had married a boy of her choice. This incident had evoked a huge controversy.

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