The presence of two ‘radical’ Sikh leaders, along with their 200-250 supporters, at Takht Sri Harmandirji, Patna Sahib, very nearly marred the bonhomie and goodwill that marked the 350th Prakash Parv (birth anniversary) celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh (January 1-5).
It can now be revealed that ‘hardline’ Sikh leaders, Bhai Dhian Singh Mand and Bhai Amrik Singh Ajnala, were present during the celebrations and shared the stage with top leaders at Takht Sri Harmandirji on January 4.
At a ‘panthic samagam’ organised by ‘hardline’ Sikh leaders, including Simranjeet Singh Maan (SAD-A) and Bhai Mokham Singh (UAD), Mand had been appointed ‘acting Jathedar’ of Akal Takht (Amritsar) whereas Ajnala had been appointed ‘jathedar’ of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Anantpur Sahib (Punjab). The ‘samagam’ was held at Chaba village near Tarn Taran (Punjab) on November 10, 2015.
These were ‘parallel’ appointments by ‘radical’ Sikh groups as Giani Gurbachan Singh is already the official jathedar, appointed by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar, and Giani Mal Singh the jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib.
Sources said Mand and Ajnala had reached Patna Sahib during the festivities to ‘assert their authority’ as ‘jathedars’ of the two takhts and “to challenge the authority of the SGPC-appointed jathedars”.
But delicate handling by the hosts — Takht Sri Harmandirji jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh and the Takht management committee, prevented any ugly confrontation that may have marred the celebrations that ultimately concluded without a hitch.
“Two naqli (fake) Jathedars — Mand and Ajnala — were insisting on all the privileges of the (official) jathedars. They took part in the nagar kirtan on January 3 and took a position on the stage at Harmandirji on January 4,” Giani Iqbal Singh told HT.
He said the Takht management turned a blind eye to these developments “as we wanted to avoid any ugly incident. But I refused them ‘siropa’ and other gestures of honour extended to the (official) jathedars who attended the festivities”.
Giani Iqbal Singh said apprehending a possible ‘confrontation’ between the hardliners and the establishment, he and the Takht Sri Harmandirji management committee had written in advance to the jathedars of the takhts outside Bihar to ‘avoid’ the Prakash Parv celebrations.
“We told them we were advising as such for their own security and dignity, lest the supporters of the rival jathedars created any ugly situation,” he said.
“Yet, I and the jathedars of Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib, Nanded (Maharashtra), Giani Kulwant Singh and Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda), Giani Gurmukh Singh, came for the love of the Guru,” Akal Takht jatherdar Gurbachan Singh told HT.
Only Giani Mal Singh, jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, could not come “because of his illness”, Giani Gurbachan Singh added.
He said he was going back fully satisfied and happy. “Giani Iqbal Singh, our host took good care of us and even presented me a ‘siropa’. The Guruji’s love conquered all and put only good thoughts in the minds of all of us who came here out of devotion,” he said.
“Guru Gobind Singhji maharaj is known as ‘Sahibe kamaal’. It is thanks to his ‘kamaal’ that everything went so well,” said Giani Iqbal Singh.