Amid stiff opposition from Punjab, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, announced the formation of a separate Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) for the Sikhs of Haryana at a well-attended Sikh Sammelan in Patti Afghana village on Sunday.

He said a Bill to form the Haryana Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (HSGPC), which will manage Sikh shrines in Haryana will be introduced in the ensuing Assembly session beginning from July 11.

The Chief Minister said it was the right of Haryana’s Sikhs to have an independent body to manage their shrines, adding that the HSGPC will have an elected body on the pattern of Punjab’s Amritsar- based SGPC. Amidst slogans of ‘Bole so Nihal’ and tight security, Mr Hooda said his government decided on this after a ministerial committee approved the formation of a new body.

He assured the gathered Sikhs that the new HSGPC will not have any political interference.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who had petitioned the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to prevent Haryana from having its own SGPC, described it as an attempt by the Congress to divide the Sikhs for political gains.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, meanwhile, said that the “real face behind the conspiracy to divide and weaken the Sikh community was not Mr. Hooda but Congress president Sonia Gandhi.” “It is unfortunate and condemnable that the Gandhi family is unable to let go of its hatred towards the Sikh community despite the fact that it is the Sikh community which has been victimised at their hands,” he said in a statement issued here.

The SAD leadership has made it clear that it will take all possible steps to prevent a separate SGPC.

Earlier in the day, a group of Sikhs who raised slogans against Mr. Hooda when he reached the venue of the Sammelan, were whisked off by the Haryana police.

Speaking on the occasion, Haryana PWD minister, Randeep Singh Surjewala, said that the Sikhs have struggled for a separate SGPC neither to get any political benefit nor to get possession of any land or property but to get the right to manage their gurdwaras in Haryana.

Launching an attack on the Badal-led SAD, and its ally, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) led by Om Prakash Chautala as well as the BJP, Mr Surjewala said that all three parties had always conspired against the interests of the Sikhs of the State.