Published September 7, 2012 | 5:10 pm
Toronto: The indefinite hunger strike started by a Sikh doctor Sukhdev Singh Kooner and his supporters came to an end after an amicable solution to the discord of membership freeze was found.
Community members from Windsor as well as far from Toronto area worked round the clock for last couple of days to find a solution. With the help of sangat members, who mediated the talks between the two sides, a meeting was arranged late last night at Gurdwara Sahib.
Current Executive committee (EC) was represented by Mr Gurbax Singh Wahid and it was decide that membership will be opened unconditionally before the end of September 2012. EC will make an official announcement after Sunday’s services on September 9, 2012.
A baptized Sikh doctor hailing from Windsor in Ontario has gone on a hunger strike along with some of his supporters to protest membership freeze by the executive committee of the Sikh Cultural Society of Windsor.
Allergist Dr. Sukhdev Singh Kooner, who previously headed the committee, alleged that the executive committee is freezing the membership of 400 persons including him to take control of the Gurdwara, the charges that have been rubbished by the committee members.
The doctor accompanied by a large number of supporters started his hunger strike on Sunday at Gurdwara Khalsa Parkash, a Sikh temple on County Road 42 and since then he is surviving only on water.
“Everyone has the right to a membership,we did not have any other choice left,” he said while talking to local media persons. He claimed that he would continue his hunger strike till his demands are met.
Windsor police is minutely watching the protest to save any untoward incident and to keep an eye upon doctor’s health.
Kooner said he took the extreme step after his repeated requests regarding the membership issue fell to deaf ears.Kooner said he is adamant on not moving from the temple until his demands are met.
In a news release, supporters of Dr. Sukhdev Singh Kooner said he and some of his followers are suffering the effects of not eating since Sunday and he has “already lost eight pounds” since the start of hunger strike.They also claimed 15 other members of Kooner’s group have joined a “24 hour chain hunger strike” in sympathy.
Meanwhile the Gurdwara’s executive committee have termed the hunger strike by the doctor as bid to escape previous fines.
Harjinder Singh Kandola, president of the Sikh Cultural Society of Metropolitan Windsor, called Kooner’s actions an unfortunate and accused Kooner, the previous leader of the executive, of blackmail.
Kandola alleged that Kooner’s group have been making attempts to destabilize the society for past three years and after losing legal battle they are now adopting blackmail tactics. Kandola claimed freezing membership was necessary to preserve the status quo following the unlawful takeover of the Gurdwara by Kooner and his supporters.
A report by Windsor Star says that the dispute is purportedly over membership at the temple. The Kooner group says membership should be open, while the Kandola group says membership should remain frozen until the temple’s court matters have been resolved.
Mayor Eddie Francis told Windsor Star that a formal letter has been issued to members of the temple “reminding them of the role and responsibilities (of Windsor police), and when and where police can get involved.”
Meanwhile Windsors Sikhs are upset over the ongoing dispute that is causing a bad repute of community.
On condition of not to be quoted, a Windsor man said, ” When you bring your internal strife out in the open, you expose yourself and your community to public criticism and sometimes even hateful remarks.
Differences of opinion exist in every organization but its in the best interest of every organization, especially minority community organizations to always display unity and solidarity to the outside world. Sometimes you have to let go your own stand for the overall sake of your community”.