A petition was launched to prevent Sri Harmandir Sahib from being recognized a UNESCO world heritage site. The implications of such a recognition are severe for Sikhs as the Indian Government would control all aspects of the Golden Temple complex and that too legally.
Here are some points made against the UNESCO recognition:
There are a number of long term implications of applying for this status
1. The application can only be made by the country. Therefore the Indian government will assume primary responsibility for management and protection of Sri Darbar Sahib. A future Indian government can easily side step the SGPC, or reduce its role and set up a new body to look after ‘protection of heritage’ issues. The Sikhs will not be able to do anything legally to stop this.
2. To ensure that buildings are not harmed by erosion etc, a future government committee can impose limits to the number of people who can go into Sri Darbar Sahib at any one time. This will ensure that structures are no damaged by having too many people in the complex!
3. The Government can ban any political meeting taking place within Sri Darbar Sahib by claiming that it is necessary to avoid any possible ‘violence’ taking place.
4. The government through its body can ban a Surbutt Khalsa taking place in Sri Darbar Sahib.
5. The Sovereignty of Sri Akal Takht Sahib will be lost as India’s sovereignty and right to protect as well as manage the Darbar sahib will have been conceded by the Sikhs through this application.
6. A future Indian government can install a police post within Darbar Sahib under the pretext of ‘protecting’ the heritage.
7. The focus and emphasis of Sri Darbar Sahib will change from a deeply spiritual place where people of faith and longing go to a place of cultural tourism where mass tourism will be catered for.
8. There are many misrepresentations in the Application dossier which give a misguided description of Sikhi. The document will become an international document of reference. It is important that its contents are sound and portray a true account of Sikhi.
9. The application transfers ‘religious’ decisions concerning maryada, from Sri Akal Takht Sahib to the SGPC, a body of the Government.
10. The Sikhs already seem to have lost some control. The application cannot be withdrawn by SGPC. Only the Indian government can withdraw the application.
11. A future government will introduce legislation to over ride any restrictions in Gurdwara Act in order to fulfil its international obligations as required by article 153 of the Indian constitution.
12. A future government can impose restrictions on the type and number of arms held in the Darbar sahib precinct, including the length of the kirpan when dignitaries visit.
13. A future government body can impose new rules to ensure security for important leaders visiting Sri Darbar Sahib. These can over ride any Sikh maryada.
14. In the present dossier, there is already a provision for a body consisting of two representatives of Central government, two from State (Punjab) government and four experts chosen by the government and only ONE SGPC members, to supervise management and protection of the site for heritage purpose.
15. the representatives from central and state government do not have to be Sikhs, they can even be Radhaswamis or anyone the government nominates.
16. Any future development in the complex will need the permission of this body.
17. Any decisions taken by SGPC or Sikhs that could reflect on the heritage status or have direct or indirect effect on the buildings, can be vetoed by this body. For instance if the Sikhs decide to hold a month long event to celebrate the anniversary of Sri Akal takht sahib, the body can over rule this.