Baba Ajit Singh Hansaliwale, the head of Nirmal dera, Hansali, Fatehgarh Sahib, died at the age of 75 on Thursday night.
Doctors had referred the preacher to Chandigarh after he became unwell on Thursday, but he died on the way. His body will lie in state till Saturday. On Sunday, it will be immersed in the Sutlej river near Bibhor Sahib, Nangal.
Prominent personalities who visited Hansali on Friday to pay tributes to Ajit Singh included Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Punjab cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia, former Punjab assembly deputy speaker Bir Devinder, Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra and former legislator Didar Singh Bhatti, besides officers of the district administration and the police.
Apart from leading politicians, Ajit Singh’s followers included cricketers Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh. Yuvraj had dedicated India’s victory in the 2011 World Cup to the preacher. The Badal family and Majithia had paid a thanksgiving visit after the Shiromani Akali Dal’s victory in the 2012 assembly elections.
Expressing grief over Ajit Singh’s death, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said, “Sant Ajit Singh Hansaliwale was a pious soul who redeemed mankind from the pangs of sorrow and agony by exhorting his followers to tread the path of spirituality.”
Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal said, “He was a social reformer who played a proactive role in spreading Sikh tenets among the masses and remained in the service of humanity till his last breath.”
“A void has been created in the socio-religious sphere that is hard to fill,” said Majithia.
In a condolence message, former CM Capt Amarinder Singh said, “It is a great loss to humanity. He taught great values to the humanity and provided spiritual guidance to thousands of people.”
Sources said Ajit Singh’s prominent follower Paramjit Singh had been designated as the heir to the Nirmal dera trust. The trust runs a charitable hospital, a school and a girls’ college.