Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar on Wednesday said the Akal Takht never asked Sikhs to oppose religious congregations by followers of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda.
His statement is being seen as a U-turn from the earlier stand of the SGPC, which had helped the Sikh families affected by the violence during Sikhs' clashes with dera followers while opposing the dera congregations on various occasions.
Makkar was here to participate in a function hosted by Takht Damdma Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, high priest Balwant Singh Nandgarh.
Interestingly, Nandgarh has remained in the forefront asking Sikh bodies to oppose religious congregations by the dera.
Several violent incidents between Sikhs and dera followers have been witnessed after the Akal Takht gave a call to socially boycott the dera followers in 2007. But neither the SGPC nor the Akal Takht made any clarification on this all these years.
When asked for his comment on the recent clash between Sikhs and dera followers in Ferozepur, he said, "Sikhs have been asked to socially boycott dera followers, but they should not intervene in their congregations being held at their homes.
Makkar said Sikhs should not bother about any programme being organised by the dera followers in their houses. He said, "If they defame our guru or our religion, then it is justified for Sikhs to react."
When reminded that Sikhs were merely following the orders of the Akal Takht, Makkar said no such orders had been issued by the Akal Takht that forbid dera followers from organising a congregation. "The Akal Takht only asked Sikhs to terminate their relations with dera followers," he said, adding that Sikhs should not risk their lives in such conflicts.
When told that the SGPC had financially helped Sikhs who had suffered in such violent incidents, he said, "It is the responsibility of the SGPC to help Sikhs in need."
On being asked why Gurbaksh Singh, who had been fighting for the release of Sikh prisoners, had not received support either from the Akal Takht or the SGPC, he said, "Gurbaksh is holding a fast for his own vested interests. We are also trying to resolve the issue. We don't think Gurbaksh's protest is the way we can get the Sikh prisoners released."