Amritsar Sahib, 29th June – Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Taskforce is once again at the centre of a controversy following a clash between its members and some shopkeepers in the vicinity of the Harmandir Sahib complex over a demolition drive.
The clash, which occurred on Sunday, left seven persons, including five of the task force members, injured. Police said the clash took place when the task force and some SGPC officials, without informing the police, descended on a cluster of seven empty shops that are reportedly in its possession in the bazaar at Chowk Baba Sahib, and began demolishing these with the help of earthmovers. The SGPC plans to build a serai (resthouse) over the 500 square yards. Besides the seven shops, a closed school and a couple of other properties are to be demolished for the construction. Despite the resistance, the task force succeeded in partly demolishing the properties.
However, it turned violent after one shopkeeper named Satbir Singh and his two sons, who own shops in the area and are already fighting a case against the SGPC for ownership of the seven shops, objected to the demolition. Satbir Singh alleged that the SGPC task force had deliberately damaged the roof of his shop and When his sons objected, SGPC task force members attacked them with swords
Police reached the spot, while more SGPC officials also arrived with revenue records to justify their action. But Satbir claimed the SGPC action was illegal as the seven shops in question were in his possession. Bothe sides alleged that the other already had weapons and started the clash; cross-complaints were lodged.
This was yet again an incident where, rather than intimating the police, the religious body took matters in its own hands. In May, the SGPC task force had courted controversy when its armed members went to forcibly occupy around 161 acres of land in Bhai Rupa area of Bathinda. Those tilling the land resisted the attempt, and it led to a clash.
Meanwhile, station house officer of the Amritsar C-division, inspector Devinder Singh, said both sides lodged complaints against the other: “We are in the process of recording statements of eyewitnesses and those injured. Thereafter, cases will be registered accordingly and arrests made.”