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First Woman President of Mini Parliament of Sikhs (SGPC): Jagir Kaur Lubana
AMRITSAR, March 16, 1999 — History of sorts was created in Sikhism, when Bibi Jagir Kaur, Minister for Tourism and Social Welfare was elected the first ever woman president of Shiromani Gurdwara Pra-bandhak Committee – known as the mini-Parliament of Sikhs all over the world. She replaced Akali stalwart Gurcharan Singh Tohra who was president of the committee for a record 25 terms.

The appointment of Bibi Jagir Kaur assumes significance in view of International Woman Year. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary General, SAD, while welcoming the decision of Mr Parkash Singh Badal of electing a woman as chief of SGPC said he (Mr Badal) had taken a historic decision to mark the tercentenary of the foundation of Khalsa Panth.

Immediately after her election, Bibi Jagir Kaur announced her resignation as minister. She said that she would devote all her time to religion and won't take part in politics anymore. This was an oblique reference to Mr Tohra, who had been nursing a political constituency along with his religious activities. She, however, said she won't resign from the Assembly.

The election of Bibi Jagir Kaur as (President), Mr Balbir Singh Pannu as Senior Vice-President, Mr Kewal Singh Badal as Vice-President and Hardilbir Singh Shah as general-secretary was made by a voice vote in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Narinderjit Singh. As many as eleven executive members of the SGPC were also elected.

Before election of the new SGPC house a no-confidence motion was passed against the entire previous house, including Mr Tohra. The no-confidence motion was moved even though Mr Tohra had already resigned as president of the SGPC late yesterday evening. The pro-Badal SGPC members who held an emergency meeting today morning alleged that Mr Tohra had resigned as a tactical move to scuttle the no-confidence motion. This is the third no-confidence motion since enactment of Sikh Gurdwara Act in 1925. The other no-confidence motions were moved during the sixties when Master Tara Singh and Sant Fateh Singh were fighting for supremacy in the religious and political field.

The no-confidence motion was passed amidst a walkout by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and six other SGPC members. 140 of 180 members were present. Mr Tohra and his supporters boycotted the house when objections were sought from the house on the no-confidence motion, Mr Mann was the first member to raise his hand. He said he and his party were not participating in the no-confidence motion as the December 31 hukamnama announced by Bhai Ranjit Singh the then jathedar Akal Takht (now under suspension) had directed the Akali leadership to put off their feud till the completion of tercentenary celebrations. We wont violate the hukamnama of the Akal Takht with our participation," he said. Ridiculing the moving of a no-confidence motion against Mr Tohra and the executive, Mr Mann said it was you people (Badal camp) who had re-elected Mr Tohra for the 25th time on October 22.
The SAD (Amritsar) was the only panthic faction which staged a walkout.

Political observers said that SAD (Amritsar) had taken a tactical stand at the time of no-confidence motion in neither opposing nor supporting Mr Tohra.

Mr Badal, who reached here yesterday evening, remained at the circuit house to monitor the situation. He left for Chandigarh immediately after the no-confidence motion was passed.

Before the election of the new house, the letter of Mr Parkash Singh Badal was read out by Mr Kirpal Singh Bandugar, secretary SAD and OSD to Chief Minister listing the new list of office-bearers. Nobody from the house raised any objection.

Later, while talking to the press, Bibi Jagir Kaur justified suspension of Bhai Ranjit Singh by the pro-Badal executive on February 10 and endorsed the appointment of Giani Puran Singh as acting Jathedar in place of Bhai Ranjit Singh.

She said that she would bring members of the SGPC on a single platform so that religious issues could be taken up in a harmonious ways. She also promised to unite the entire Sant Samaj for celebration of tercentenary of the Khalsa Panth.

The general house, which met in the Teja Singh Samundari Hall in the SGPC complex at one pm also elected 11 executive members, including Mr Raghujit Singh Virk, Mr Bhagwant Singh, Mr Satnam Singh Bhai Rupa, Mr Suba Singh, Mr Gurpal Singh, Mr Mal Singh Ghuman, Mr Joga Singh, Mr Joginder Singh, Ms Kiranjot Kaur, Mr Partap Singh Jalandhar and Dr Jodh Singh.

Interestingly, the general house did not mention the resignation announced by Mr Tohra yesterday. Mr Tohra sent his resignation through a special messenger. But it was not accepted by Mr Balbir Singh Pannu, general secretary SGPC (now senior president). The Badal camp, claimed that since the no-confidence vote was against the entire executive and not against Mr Tohra alone, the resignation submitted by him yesterday had no meaning except to "sabotage" the general house meeting.

Since Mr Tohra and senior vice-president Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur a confidant of Mr Tohra boycotted today's general house meeting, the meeting was chaired by junior vice-president Mr Kewal Singh Badal (son of Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Agriculture Minister Mr Hardilbir Singh Shah, who was an executive member in the previous house has been elevated as general secretary and Mr Kewal Singh Badal has retained his earlier post of junior vice-president.

Interestingly, the election of the new house was done by a voice although Mr Parkash Singh Badal had said that the election would be conducted through a secret ballot.

Born on October 15,1954, Bibi Jagir Kaur has many firsts to her credit. She was elected for the first time as SGPC member during the last committee and assembly elections respectively. Later she became minister. She is the first woman to head the SGPC– known as 'mini parliament' of Sikhs.

Though late Bibi Nirlep Kaur was the first woman who had contested the election for presidentship in eighties, she lost the same.

Before joining the politics, Bibi Jagir Kaur served as school teacher for some time. She resigned from the post to join active politics.

Daughter-in-law of late Bawa Harnam Singh, a former minister. Bibi Jagir Kaur is also a head of the Dera Sant Baba Prem Singh Muralewala (Begowal), District Kapurthala, Punjab.

She had defeated Mr Sukhpal Singh, son of Mr Sukhjinder Singh, a former minister by a big margin during the February assembly elections from Bhulath (Kapurthala).

Political observers are of the view that Mr Badal has killed many birds with one stone with the appointment of Mrs Jagir Kaur as SGPC chief. One, he has earned the praise of the women for electing a woman at a time when the bill for 33 per cent reservation for women is yet to be passed. Two it will be difficult for Mr Tohra and others to speak out against a woman.

Three, she belongs to a backward community and election of a backward class woman as chief of the SGPC and a scheduled caste as Acting Jathedar of Akal Takht. In this way the SAD would woo the backward and SC votes in the coming elections. Lastly, had Mr Badal elected Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Mr Pannu or any other stalwart they would have created problems for Mr Badal in the long run like Mr Tohra.

Bibi Jagir Kaur honours PSGPC delegation
Amritsar,(23/06/2005) :-In a significant development, Bibi Jagir Kaur, president, SGPC, today honoured a delegation of Pakistani Sikhs, including Mr Bishan Singh, vice-president, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), and exchanged gifts, here, today.

This has given clear indications that the SGPC chief had softened her stand on the PSGPC as it was for the first time that she herself has come forward to honour the PSGPC’s vice-president and other members of the delegation.

Earlier, Bibi Jagir Kaur had stopped sending Sikh jathas to Pakistan in protest against the formation of the PSGPC, on Baisakhi day of 1999 to mark the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa Panth.

However, her successor, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, the then SGPC chief, had restored the jathas.

The delegation from Pakistan has also extended a formal invitation to Bibi Jagir Kaur to visit Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

The other members of the delegation included Mr Rana Ajaz Ahmad Khan, Adviser to Pak Punjab Chief Minister, Resham Singh, advocate and Shehnaz, Patron, Human Rights Commission.

Talking to the TNS, the SGPC chief said she had accepted the invitation and would visit Pakistan at an appropriate time. The Pakistani delegation has agreed in principle to implement the ‘Maryada’ (Sikh traditions) as prescribed by the SGPC and Akal Takht in all the gurdwaras of Pakistan.

She said it was a positive development that the PSGPC had considered the SGPC as supreme body of the Sikhs.

However, Bibi Jagir Kaur made it clear that the SGPC would give recognition to the PSGPC only if Government of Pakistan gave control of Pakistan’s gurdwaras to the baptized Sikhs there.

She said that if Muslims were exclusively running Waqaf Board in India then why the control of gurdwaras was not given to the Sikh community.

She suggested that if the Pakistan Evacuee Property Trust Board (PEPTB) wanted to keep the management of the gurdwaras under its direct control then it should recruit Sikhs at a large scale, who could implement the ‘Maryada’ of Akal Takht.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said as per the reports, Muslim employees of the PEPTB were managing the gurdwaras in Pakistan which could not be tolerated.

However, the SGPC chief appreciated the goodwill shown by the PSGPC and looked forward to improving the relations between both the Sikh organisations.

She said the SGPC was ready to extend any sort of help to the PSGPC if it wanted to implement the ‘Maryada’ in its true spirit.

She added that it was a matter of principles on which the SGPC had been fighting to give control of gurdwaras to the Sikh Panth.

The delegation also presented, Nanakshahi calendar, published by the PSGPC, holy Koran, and other gifts to the SGPC chief as a mark of respect.

The SGPC made transport arrangements for the Pakistani delegation to facilitate their pilgrimage to other religious places of Punjab.

(With Thanks from Tribune, Chandigarh)

Bibi Jagir Kaur wins rare praise
Move to usher women's religious rights draw accolades from harshest critics

NEW DELHI, (UNI) September 12, 2005: The SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur is drawing rare praise from some of her harshest critics, including scholars, for her initiatives aimed at allowing women to do voluntary work or seva at the inner sanctum of the Golden Temple, a move they say will symbolise a giant leap in gender equality among Sikhs.

Until now, women are not allowed to perform the traditional midnight sanctum seva. Nor are they allowed to do kirtan or hymn-singing there for unexplained reasons although Sikhism advocates gender equality.

"The Guru Granth Sahib is replete with feminine symbolism and women played a pivotal role in religious affairs since the time of the Gurus," renowned scholar and former Ambassador Jaspal Singh said as he praised a Bibi-appointed panel for recommending woman volunteers be allowed to carry out kirtan and seva at the sanctum.

Dr. Singh referred to a number of Sikh women who became historical figures for their varying roles as brave mothers, grandmothers, devout wives and sisters to spread message of humanity and during severe crises.

"Guru Nanak's wife Mata Sulakhani extended full cooperation to her husband during his criss-cross journeys in and outside India. Mata Thivi is known for establishing the Sikh tradition of free community kitchen as an institution. Guru Amardas' daughter Bibi Bhani is another historical woman," Dr Singh, also a columnist, said.

Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) chief Paramjit Singh Sarna, a fierce critic of the SGPC chief, also supported her moves over the Golden Temple seva issue.

"We can oppose somebody's style of functioning. But we cannot and must not oppose principles and doctrines. There is no place for gender bias in Sikhism," Mr Sarna said.

Akali Dal (Santokh Singh) president Manjit Singh, another opponent of the Bibi, also appreciated the SGPC chief for taking steps "to achieve a great symbolism".

"Guru Nanak, our founder, started the community kitchen so that all Sikhs should eat together and show we are not agreeing with the caste system, like in Hinduism, and that men and women aren't keeping separated, like in Islam."

"It's the same in gurdwaras everywhere: rich and poor, young and old, men and women, all eating together. The scene maybe basic, but the symbolism is fine fusion,' Mr Manjit Singh, also a senior DSGMC member, said.

Some scholars, however, attribute what they call a redundant ban on woman seva and kirtan at the Golden Temple sanctum to the British era when the holiest of the Sikh shrines was under control of British-appointed custodians called mahants.

"Maybe, there were some safety issues that prompted gurdwara elders to keep women from the midnight or early morning seva. But if we keep this unfair practice in place now -- when there is no other reason except to show off male superiority -- it will only reflect our subjugation to a mindset opposed by the great Gurus themselves," Dr Jaspal Singh said.

The issue is pending clergy approval.

"We hope that the Singh Sahiban (top five clerics) will deal with it in the light of Sikh principles and doctrine," the former Ambassador remarked. (With Thanks from "The Hindu")

Bibi Jagir Kaur Lubana visit to Andhra Pradesh
HYDERABAD: The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur has said that she had come to Andhra Pradesh to study the infrastructure created for premier educational institutions like the Indian School for Business here.

She said the SGPC was going ahead with plans to establish a university of its own and wished to make it truly international in nature. It was as part of this endeavour that she had come to Andhra Pradesh, a State well known for such initiatives in both information and bio-technology fields, she said.

Close ties: Speaking to The Hindu on Tuesday after acknowledging felicitations by the State unit of the All India Banjara Seva Sangh (AIBSS), she said the Sikh community and the Banjara tribals had always shared a closed relationship. She recalled the sacrifices by members of the Banjara community for the Sikhs.

Earlier, speakers including Kishan Singh, former chairman of Nizam Sugar Factory and State president, AIBSS and former Minister Jagan Naik stressed the need for the Banjara community to be treated uniformly all over the country.

They recalled that while in Andhra Pradesh they were treated as Scheduled Tribes, in Karnataka they were treated as Harijans, while in Maharashtra they were included in the backward classes.

Her net worth? Rs 80 cr plus: Bibi outshines CM, Badal
Aditi Tandon: Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, January 23 Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal and his wife may have joint assets worth only Rs 9 crore, but Akali heavyweight Bibi Jagir Kaur has wealth nine times more than her party president.

Former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur’s net worth is more than a whopping Rs 80 crore – as per the disclosure she made today while filing nomination papers for the Bholath assembly constituency in Kapurthala. Her disclosure even outshines that of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, who is worth Rs 39 crore.

A chunk of Jagir Kaur’s wealth comes from a piece of ancestral property she inherited from her in-laws’. About 13 acre in size, this land in Begowal town, by chance, fell into the category of urban land. That’s how its price skyrocketed to over Rs 80 crore. “The declared worth of this land has been made on the basis of the price fixed by the District Collector,” Jagir Kaur’s lawyer told The Tribune today.

Apart from this property, Jagir Kaur has two vehicles in her name. She owns a tractor worth Rs three lakh and an Innova worth Rs 6 lakh. She has jewellery worth Rs nine lakh and cash in hand worth Rs two lakh. Besides, she had six bank accounts wit deposits worth Rs 2.50 lakh approximately. Not just that, she is an income tax assessee and she paid income tax of Rs 78,597 last year.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, who is challenging Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira of the Congress for the third time from Bholath, has also disclosed her entire criminal record in the affidavit submitted along with the nomination papers today. She has five FIRs against her. Of these, while two have been stayed by the High Court, the one pertaining to the murder of her daughter Harpreet Kaur, still stands. This FIR dated October 3, 2000 was lodged under Sections 302/365/201 and 313 of the IPC. The charges include murder, abduction and destruction of evidence.

Another standing FIR against Jagir Kaur is the one filed in Samanpur on account of public protests. Jagir Kaur’s affidavit also mentions other FIRs which were stayed by the High Court. These include the one regarding electricity theft lodged on November 7, 2002, the FIR lodged when she joined protested against the arrest of Parkash Singh Badal in 2003 and another one lodged by Kulbir Kaur Dhami, wife of Khalistan ideologue Kanwar Pal Dhami. ( With Thanks from Tribune, Chandigarh)