Amritsar, Punjab: In an attempt to curb the trend of building gurdwaras on caste lines, the Akal Takht today announced that it would felicitate those panchayats that retain only one gurdwara for the entire village.
The Sikh high priests met today and discussed ways to counter the threat posed by casteism. Talking to the mediapersons, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said: “The Sikh gurus had put an end to discrimination on caste lines. The Akal Takht has already issued an edict on June 13, directing the community not to construct gurdwaras on the basis of castes. It is not in the interest of society to create a divide in the name of castes”.
He said the panchayats which would put an end to the practice of having gurdwaras on caste lines and retain a single gurdwara for the entire village would be honoured by the Akal Takht, besides being awarded with a certificate of commendation. He said the villages having various gurdwaras should maintain only one while using others for religious or community works.
In another significant decision, the Jathedar issued directions that no gurdwara should be constructed at a place illegally encroached upon. “Anyone building such a gurdwara will face strict action,” he warned. He said anybody constructing a gurdwara should first seek permission from the Akal Takht, besides getting the land for the gurdwara registered in the name of Guru Granth Sahib.
In a related development, the Sikh clergy has directed SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar to order a probe by a senior SGPC official into the incident in which a gurdwara was allegedly demolished by supporters of a dera at Waraich village in Amritsar. They have sought the report from the SGPC within five days, after which they will decide the future course of action.
On film actor Amitabh Bachchan’s letter to the Akal Takht, pleading innocence in 1984 riots, the Jathedar said the All-India Sikh Students Federation, led by Karnail Singh Peermohammed and others, who were claiming that Bachchan was involved, were yet to produce any evidence. “We will deliberate on the issue once the proof is presented before us,” he said.
In another key decision, the Sikh clergy withdrew its decision of excommunicating Nihang Dharam Singh while stating that one of his cases is pending in a court. They said they would take a decision on the issue once the court proceedings are completed.