Sikhs in shock over Chief Khalsa Diwan row: What the whole controversy means
Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD) was founded in 1902 to bind the Singh Sabha movement that had been launched during the British rule to propagate Sikhism.chandigarh Updated: Jan 06, 2018 07:37 IST
The oldest institution of the Sikhs – the Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD) – has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons and the community is in shock.
In the last week of December, the body’s 83-year-old chief Charanjit Singh Chadha was caught on camera purportedly sexually harassing a woman principal of one the 50 schools run by the institution.
The next day, Chadha was removed from top post and primary membership of the body, and a case of sexual harassment was filed against him. His son Inderpreet was also booked for criminal intimidation.
But instead of surrendering to the police, Chadha went into hiding. On Thursday, he got interim bail till January 10.
As the community was reeling from this controversy, fresh tragedy hit on Wednesday when Inderpreet allegedly killed himself. The police charged 11 people for abetting the suicide, including three members of the CKD and the woman complainant.
“Chadha is a very ambitious man. With such people entering Sikh institutions, the teaching standards have gone down and the Sikh character of these institutions is getting diluted,” said former pro-vice chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University Pirthipal Singh Kapur.
“The incident has hurt social Sikh spectrum. If the institutions get such heads, then who will the community emulate?”
Chadha migrated from Rawalpindi in Pakistan in 1947 and settled down in Amritsar. He had stakes in the hospitality business, was a wine contactor and also a real estate developer. A relative of liquor baron Ponty Chadha who was killed in 2012, Chadha took over the reins of the CKD after a struggle in 2004.
Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD) was founded in 1902 to bind the Singh Sabha movement that had been launched during the British rule to propagate Sikhism. The body -- which runs two management colleges, a nursing college, an orphanage, two old age homes and a hospital -- is considered a forerunner of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee that manages top gurdwaras, including the Golden Temple. Eminent theologian Bhai Veer Singh founded the CKD.
“It is case of upstarts into different businesses seeking respectability by taking over the managements of such established institutions by paying money,” Kapur added.
The controversial video that allegedly shows Chadha sexually harassing the woman is from June last year and sources say Chadha has been blackmailed since then.
People close to the 83-year-old told HT on the condition of anonymity that Chadha paid up a few times, but went to the police after repeated demands. In September, the Jalandhar police arrested an employee in Chadha’s hotel and a photographer. Roughly two months later, the video went public.
Chadha remains close to the Sikh clergy – the Jathedar of highest temporal seat of Sikhs, the Akal Takht. Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh attended the wedding of Chadha’s grandson at a gurdwara in Dubai.
He shot into the limelight after taking over as the CKD president with the support of then Akal Takht jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti in 2004. Gradually, he built his monopoly over the 115-year-old organisation.
The suicide of his 52-year-old son on January 3 made matters worse. Inderpreet was accused of threatening to eliminate the woman complainant.
Inderpreet’s younger brother, Harjit Singh, 40, and their sister Veeta Chadha, 54, are left in the family. Harjit was made the joint secretary of the CKD and many other family members were recruited.
Cloth merchant Dhanraj Singh is the acting president of the CKD. He is distantly related to Chadha.
Chadha’s opponents allege he turned the CKD into “Chadha and Company” and did not stick to the aim of imparting education and propagating Sikhism.
“It is unfortunate, that such a thing has cropped up in the Sikh institution. Such an act, if true, is not acceptable in the religious institutions. (Charanjeet Singh) Chadha should come out clean or let law take its course,” said Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Maniit Singh GK.