Hurdles in declaring Golden Temple world heritage site

Unesco has also given credence to the objections raised by the representatives of various Sikh organisations and has asked the government of India to ensure the participation of the community before the Golden Temple is declared a world heritage site .
Dr Jasdev Singh Rai, a UK-based international adviser to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, who met the senior officials of Unesco, apart from holding meetings with many Sikh intellectuals, including SGPC members, here yesterday said it was unfortunate that the dossier on the Golden Temple, sent to Unesco was kept a top secret. He said the Golden Temple was a common heritage of the Sikhs all over the world and hence the SGPC alone could not take a final decision on its own without taking the world Sikh community into confidence .

Meanwhile , in a letter addressed to Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Hardip Singh Mohali, an SGPC member, has raised serious objections over certain contents of the dossier. He said it was a matter of concern that the SGPC dossier mentioned it as ?Golden Temple? instead of describing it as a gurdwara or the darbar sahib. He said the repeated mention of ?Golden Temple? in the dossier created misunderstanding.

Dr Jasdev Singh Rai also showed the copy he received from the Director, Unesco, World Heritage Centre, addressed to Bhaswati Mukherji, Ambassador, the permanent delegate of India to Unesco, on the subject of declaring the Golden Temple as a world heritage site. The letter of the Director, Unesco reads, ?Unesco has been contacted by several religious groups of the Sikh faith, based not only in India but also in the UK and Canada who were concerned over the possible impact of the world heritage listing on the character of the sacred site?.
The Unesco communication further reads , ?The main issue raised by the Sikh leaders was the lack of consultation with the representatives of the Sikh community in the process of nomination?.

It clearly mentions that the removing of objections by consulting the representatives of the Sikh community was a must for listing the Golden Temple as a world heritage site. ?The participation of local people in the nomination process is essential to make them share responsibility with the state party in the maintenance of the site.

Giving reasons for raising objections, Dr Rai claimed that even the then SGPC chief, late Gurcharn Singh Tohra was convinced that declaring the Golden Temple as a world heritage site would invite trouble to the shiromani committee so far as the management of the Golden Temple as per Sikh maryada was concerned. Dr Rai said that as per the provisions of Unesco, the Central Government would get a right of direct interference in the management in case the Golden Temple was declared as a world heritage site.

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