March 11, 2003
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) will decide by May 15, 2003 on how to implement Sikh womens right to do seva at Harmandir Sahib.
The SGPCs Dharam Parchar Committee meeting, chaired by the SGPC president Kirpal Singh, appointed a five member committee to report to the SGPC on how seva rights would be implemented.
The members of the committee are Balwant Singh (Jathedar Dam Dama Sahib), Kharak Singh, Darshan Singh, Kirtar Kaur and Amarjit Kaur. Kiranjot Kaur, a former general secretary of the SGPC and current member, who has in the past been a proponent of the Sikh womens right to do keertan at Darbar Sahib is not on this committee.
An SGPC source told the human rights group, Voices for Freedom, that the committee was given 2 months to prepare the report for the SGPC so that "whilst solving one problem a new one is not created." Mejindarpal Kaur told VFF that she was pleased that the SGPC had taken this positive step, but she cautioned that it was still too early to celebrate. "I hope that the seva committee's remit is wide enough to include all forms of seva at all Gurdwaras and not only Harmandir Sahib, she said. "We have to ensure that gender discrimination in seva is put to an end once and for all," she added.
Mejindarpal Kaur, an attorney from the UK, was involved in an incident at Harmandir Sahib on February 13, 2003 when she and another Sikh woman also from the UK, Lakhbir Kaur, was forcefully stopped from participating in the sukhasan procession ceremony.
The incident sparked a global campaign for gender equality in the undertaking of all forms of seva at all Gurdwaras, especially at Harmandir Sahib.