The Akal Takht on Wednesday excommunicated Haryana finance minister Harmohinder Singh Chattha and Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (HSGMC, ad hoc) leaders Jagdish Singh Jhinda and Didar Singh Nalwi from the Sikh Panth for defying the highest temporal seat of Sikhism and going ahead with the formation of a separate gurdwara panel in the neighbouring state.
"They will no longer call themselves Sikhs as this right stands withdrawn," said the 'hukamnama' (edict) read out by Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh from the balcony on the first floor of the Takht building in the Golden Temple complex here.
As per the edict, the three leaders can be exonerated and accepted back into the Panth (community) only if they approach the Akal Takht for forgiveness and accept the 'tankha' (religious punishment) that will be awarded to them.
The 'hukamnana' called upon Sikhs to boycott the three leaders "socially, religiously and politically till the time they do not ask for forgiveness". It warned that any Sikh found guilty of violating this directive would be dealt with by the Takht in accordance with the 'maryada' (tradition).
In a bid to weaken the backing of Haryana Sikhs for the HSGMC, the Takht warned them not to lend their support to this "fratricidal feud that is aimed at dividing and weakening the Sikh community".
Justifying the action taken against Chattha, Nalwi and Jhinda, the 'hukamnama' claimed that they had time and again been warned to refrain from their 'anti-Panthic' activities but they chose to ignore these warnings.
The jathedar said the decision ('hukamnama') was taken after the five Singh Sahibs (head priests) received memorandums from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), various Singh Sabhas, nihang groups and other religious organisations. All of them had demanded the Takht's intervention as the matter concerned the entire Sikh community, he said.
On the action against Chattha, who as minister had merely obeyed the orders of the state government, the jathedar said, "He is guilty as he had prepared the draft of the separate gurdwara committee."
When asked whether the decision to excommunicate the three Haryana leaders was taken on the orders of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, Giani Gurbachan shot back, "Who can order us, even Badal cannot".
He claimed that the decision to excommunicate them was taken unanimously at the meeting of the Singh Sahibs. The others who were present at the meeting included Takht Keshgarh Sahib jathedar Giani Mal Singh, Takht Damdama Sahib jathedar Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Takht Patna Sahib jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh and Giani Jagtar Singh, additional head granthi of Harmandar Sahib.