The clash between rival groups inside Gurudwara Rakabganj follows months of political discontent over elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC).
Elections to the committee, which manages Delhi’s gurudwaras, are pending since January last year. The Supreme Court this September ordered the elections must be held by December 31.
Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), or SAD (Badal), leaders accuse Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit of deliberately delaying elections to help DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna, who operates a party by the name of Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi).
DSGMC is an autonomous organisation voted to power by the city’s Sikh community. It also manages various educational institutions, hospitals, old-age homes, libraries and other charitable institutions.
On Thursday, a group led by Sarna clashed with the one headed by Manjeet Singh, chief of the SAD (Badal) Delhi unit, with both accusing each other of instigating the violence.
SAD (Badal) is opposing the Delhi government’s recent proposal to amend the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Act 1971, which will provide for direct election for the post of the DSGMC president.
At present, the elected members of the gurudwara committee choose the president and the SAD (Badal) claims the proposed amendment is meant for the benefit of Sarna.
SAD (Badal) MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who rushed from Punjab to Delhi to meet those injured in the clash, blamed the Congress government in Delhi for instigating the attack on her party’s leaders and workers.
“Everybody knows that the Sarna brothers are a creation of the Congress. There must be a high-level inquiry as to why the police, which was present in sufficient numbers in the gurudwara today, chose to be silent spectators even as our workers were attacked with sharp-edged weapons and shots were fired in the air,” Harsimrat Badal said.
She slammed the Dikshit government for trying to amend the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Act, 1971. “The Congress has always been interfering in the affairs of the Sikhs by propping up anti-social elements. The voters in Punjab have taught the party a strong lesson in the last two elections and will do so in the next elections in Delhi too,” she said.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s state chief Vijender Gupta, too, accused the Dikshit government of triggering the clash. “It’s all a result of the state government’s interference. They must take responsibility. The current DSGMC should be dissolved after today’s violence,” he said.