Giani Gurbachan Singh says that Panj Piyares are ordinary granthis allowed to do small duties

Amritsar, Punjab: On September 24, the five Takht heads — Gurbachan Singh (Akal Takht), Mal Singh (Kesgarh Sahib), Gurbaksh Singh (Damdama Sahib), Iqbal Singh (Patna Sahib) and Ram Singh (Hazoor Sahib) — had issued an edict pardoning Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for his alleged blasphemous act by pretending 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh in 2007. The Panj Pyaras had, going by the “powers” vested in them as representatives of the community, summoned the Jathedars, only to be suspended afterwards.

The Akal Takht Jathedar today said, “The Panj Pyaras do not have the authority to summon the five Takht heads. They are among the ordinary ‘granthis’ of the Golden Temple nominated to conduct ‘amrit sanchar’ (baptism ritual) or lead ‘nagar kirtans’. It is the first time they have overstepped their jurisdiction.”

On the other hand, the Panj Pyaras today refused to join their new postings (as assigned by the SGPC). Sources said they would assemble at Akal Takht tomorrow to decide their future strategy. While Satnam Singh Khanda, Major Singh, Satnam Singh were shifted to the UP Sikh Mission headquarters at Hapar, Tirlok Singh and Mangal Singh have been told to join work at the Sikh Mission in Kurukshetra.

Apart from the SGPC members, several Sikh bodies have announced their support for the Panj Pyaras. Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD) head Charanjit Singh Chadha called it a “hasty” decision. “The CKD has always played a pivotal role in Sikh matters, but no one feels the need to take us into confidence on vital issues now. The five Takht heads landing in a disgraceful situation or the Panj Pyaras being treated in a nonchalant manner is a serious matter,” he said. Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) president Paramjit Singh Sarna alleged the suspension order was an attack on Sikhism itself. “The Panj Pyaras have the powers to pronounce religious punishment to anybody over blasphemy,” he said.

The Sikh religious establishment seemed in a disarray a day after Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar suspended the Panj Pyaras for summoning the five Sikh high priests over pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda chief in an alleged blasphemy case. The SGPC’s executive committee today refused to go with Makkar’s decision and Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh questioned Panj Pyaras’ authority to call the high priests.

The committee’s support to the Panj Pyaras will likely lead to revocation of their suspension, but it isn’t clear yet whether their summoning of the Takht heads would hold relevance.

The members, who met here today, are learnt to have registered their protest with Makkar over his “unilateral” decision, though they subsequently authorised him to take the final call.

Makkar told press the decision would be taken in another two days. “The executive members have apprised me of their views. We had a long discussion… the issue concerns the sentiments of the Sikh community.”

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