Akal Takht in no mood to repeal edict

Amritsar, Punjab: The Akal Takht is in no mood to reconsider its ‘hukamnama’ (edict) of July 16 in the wake of an appeal by the Sikh ‘sangat’ of Haryana to revoke excommunication of state finance minister Harmohinder Singh Chattha and Sikh leaders Jagdish Singh Jhinda and Didar Singh Nalwi.

“The ‘hukamnama’ stands as it is and there is no move to reconsider or revoke it”, stated Takht jathedar, Giani Gurbachan Singh, when asked for his reaction on the appeal made by the ‘sangat’ of Haryana during a meeting of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC-adhoc) held at Kurukshetra on July 17.

Talking to mediapersons here on Saturday, the jathedar said, “There is no question of considering the appeal as we have not closed our doors to anyone. Those who have been excommunicated are free to approach the Akal Takht and ask for forgiveness in accordance with the Sikh ‘maryada’ (tradition)”.

The jathedar, in fact, remained busy at Anandpur Sahib for most part of the day. He planted a sapling at gurdwara Bhora Sahib and announced the commencement of the tree plantation drive to be undertaken by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) as part of the 350th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of Anandpur Sahib town by Guru Tegh Bahadur.

The celebrations had commenced on June 19 and will continue throughout the year.

The jathedar announced that 3.5 lakh saplings will be planted by the SGPC around different shrines of Punjab during the celebrations. He also announced that gurdwara Bhora Sahib will be given a facelift. This will involve widening of its entrance and parkarma and construction of a boundary wall.

Meanwhile, the office of the SGPC at its headquarters in the Golden Temple complex continued to wear a deserted look for the second successive day with most of its staff, including senior officials, having left for Haryana.

On Saturday, only two secretary level officials, Manjit Singh and Roop Singh, were in their offices. Assistant secretaries Bhupinder Singh and Vijay Singh were also seen at the headquarters. Senior most secretary, Dalmegh Singh, additional secretary Daljit Singh Bedi continued to be absent from their offices. SGPC officials claimed that the two were in Anandpur Sahib attending the function of the Akal Takht jathedar.

An SGPC source, when contacted, said, “Office work is suffering as no files are being cleared. The work at other gurdwaras has also been affected as a number of managers have been moved out and stationed at SGPC-run shrines in Haryana”.

As per available information, Rajinder Singh Ruby, manager of Gurdwara Satlani Sahib near Attari, has been camping at Gurdwara Nadda Sahib in Panchkula for the past two days. There were reports that a number of managers of other shrines had also been moved out and sent to “protect” gurdwaras in Ambala, Kurukshetra, Pehowa, Jind and other places in the neighbouring state.

Though SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar has called this exodus as being “administrative in nature” but it is an open secret now that this is being done to “protect” the gurdwaras in Haryana that belong to the Amritsar-based SGPC.

Many SGPC officials have expressed fears that such a move could lead to confrontation and even clashes with members of the HSGMC who will have the backing of the Haryana government.

Meanwhile, SGPC member Kiranjot Kaur has welcomed the efforts being made by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to solve the HSGMC issue.

“As I had earlier said, this issue should be solved at the political and legal levels and that SAD should take the lead. I welcome the initiative shown by the chief minister and the SAD,” she said while reacting to the decision of the SAD to convene a Panthic convention at Amritsar on July 27.

Kiranjot was the only SGPC member to have openly opposed involving the Akal Takht in this matter.

However, the Dal Khalsa rejected the “panthic convention politics’ of the Badals , with its spokesman Kanwarpal Singh saying, “If a morcha has to be launched, it should be on the long pending demands of the ‘quam’ and not on this issue. Moreover, Badal and company no longer have the right to launch morchas, as they have abandoned the panthic agenda that the Akalis once had”.

Source: HT

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