Although the apology tendered by Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to the Sikh’s 10th Guru Gobind Singh, on Sunday could defuse the crisis for the time being, it is unlikely to lead to a long-term solution.
In a statement issued to the media, the Dera tendered an apology to Guru Gobind Singh, saying the sect chief had absolutely no intention to either imitate or replicate him.
The Dera had already expressed regret for the chain of events and “now in the best interest of peace and tranquility the Dera tenders an apology to Guru Gobind Singh.” “Guruji (Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim) says that he can never imitate or replicate the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh,” the statement added.
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti said he had heard about the Dera chief tendering apology for his “sacrilegious” act. “We will discuss the same in the meeting of five Sikh high priests after receiving the apology statement through proper channels.”
Well-known Sikh scholar Dr Kharak Singh, however, said that the Sikhs should show the magnanimity of forgiving the sect chief on the basis of apology being tendered by him. “The apology by Dera Sacha Sauda would help defuse the tension,” he said, urging the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to streamline its functioning to stop the Sikhs going to the Deras.
Takht Patna Sahib Jathedar Iqbal Singh opined that the apology by Dera chief would pave the way for dialogue. “Whether the Sikh community forgives him or not would depend upon the style of his seeking forgiveness. The way the Dera chief hurt the sentiments of Sikhs, he should tender unconditional apology by appearing on TV channels,” he added.
However, Damdami Taksal spokesman Mohkam Singh said the Dera chief must have ensured that he had sought forgiveness from the entire Sikh community. “The apology would be acceptable only with a condition that the Sect chief makes it clear that he would never repeat his 'sacrilegious' act of emulating Guru Gobind Singh.”
SAD secretary general and former Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said: “It would have been better in case he (Baba) had sought unconditional apology from Sikh Sangat. The response is unsatisfactory despite the soft stand taken by the Sikhs in today’s gathering in Sangrur.”
On the other hand, DSGMC president Paramjeet Singh Sarna felt: “The apology is not in its right spirit. The apology should be from Sikh panth, the followers of 10th Guru have been much pained after another act of Gurmit Ram Rahim so he should again seek unconditional apology.”
Punjab Chief Minister’s adviser Dr DS Cheema, however, said the party would issue a formal reaction only on Monday.
Pramod Kumar, Director of Institute of Development and Communication, however, said: “This apology was long-awaited. Although the realisation on the part of the Dera should have come much earlier, it’s not too late and is a major step towards solving the crisis.”