Shiromani Akali Dal president and former Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, Sardar Sukhbir Singh Badal met the BJP President Mr Amit Shah in New Delhi today and urged him to use his good offices with the Government of India to get a GST waiver on items for Langar in the Golden Temple (Darbar Sahib Sri Harmandar Sahib) Amritsar .
Mr Badal met the BJP chief at the head of a delegation which comprised the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managment Committee President Jathedar Manjit Singh GK, senior Akali leaders and Members of Parliament Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Jathedar Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Professor Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mr Naresh Gujral.
Giving details of their meeting, the SAD spokes person Mr Harcharan Bains told newspersons in Chandigarh that Mr Badal also drew the attention the BJP chief to other sensitive Sikh issues like problems being faced by members of the Sikh community residing in other parts of the world including Canada, the UK, the USA etc.
Mr Badal described Mr Amit Shah’s respons to the issues as “very positive” and said that the BJP chief promised to “do everything possible to secure justice and fair play for the brave and patriotic Sikh community on every issue.”
“We strongly urged the BJP chief to intervene to secure a positive response from the Government of India to the GST exemption demand as this is not just a sensitive and sacred religious issue affecting the sentiments of the Sikhs all over the world but it also reflects the sentiments of all other communities who regard the Golden Temple as a “shrine for the whole humanity”.
Mr Badal said that the delegation apprised Mr Shah of the heavy burden imposed on the Golden Temple by the GST as crores of rupees meant for the sacred purpose of service to the entire mankind were siphoned off through taxation.
Langar is a unique and noble form of social welfare. Everybody, regardless of religion, caste , community, state and nationality is offered free langar at any time of the day at Sri Darbar Sahib and the Sikh shrines are unique in the world in this respect.
The Golden Temple langar is widely acknowledged as the largest free community kitchen in the world. The SAD , the SGPC and the DSGMC have been fighting for getting exemption from the GST on langar items since its introduction.
Mr Badal said the Govt of India must not regard a sacred exercise as Langar like any other taxable service.
“This is rare and divine form of service of mankind and deserves a special approach.” said Mr Badal