AMRITSAR: Veteran Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former chief secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Manjit Singh Calcutta died here on Wednesday. He was 79. He was not keeping well for the past few weeks and died at a private hospital here, his family members said. Calcutta is survived by his wife Santokh Kaur, son Gurpreet Singh and two daughters, who live in Canada. His cremation will take place on Thursday at 12 noon. Calcutta had remained the education minister in the Badal government when Panthic Sikh leader and SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra was alive. Calcutta joined politics in 1955 when he was made the national president of the Sikh student outfit — All India Sikh Students Federation. He also remained the secretary of the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Calcutta which is now known as Kolkata. Calcutta, a law graduate from the University College of Law of Calcutta in 1966, came to Delhi in 1968. In 1980, he became the general secretary of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee during elections of the management committee. He also became its president later. During the lifetime of former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, he was elected as national general secretary of SAD, when Jagdev Singh Talwandi was party president. In his decade-long stay in the SGPC, Calcutta was its honorary secretary and chief secretary between 1988 and 2004. He was elected as an MLA from Amritsar south constituency in 1997 and became the minister for higher education when Parkash Singh Badal was the chief minister and later resigned when Tohra group separated from Badal.Half-day declared in government offices
CHANDIGARH: Punjab government on Wednesday declared a half-day in the wake of the death of Calcutta. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has condoled the death of veteran Akali leader, eminent Sikh scholar and former chief secretary of SGPC Manjit Singh Calcutta, who passed away in Amritsar on Wednesday morning after a brief illness. In his condolence message, the Chief Minister said that Manjit Singh Calcutta, who had also held the position of Higher Education Minister, was a staunch believer of value based politics. He worked relentlessly for the propagation of the tenets of Sikhism, recalled Captain Amarinder. State Assembly Speaker Rana Kanwar Pal Singh and ministers, including Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Rana Gurjit Singh, expressed grief over Calcutta’s demise.
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