In a late night decision on Tuesday, the Nirankari sect decided to make Savinder Kaur, widow of the deceased Baba Hardev Singh as head of the sect. She will be the first woman and the fifth in line to head the sect founded in 1929.
The sect followers have accepted her as their ‘Guru’ and are relieved as the speculation over the succession plan has ended.
In her late fifties Savinder, hailing from Farooqabad town of Uttar Pradesh, was married to Hardev Singh in 1975.
Savinder was offered the ceremonial ‘dupatta’ at the anointment ceremony attended by the 21-member management committee headed by its president JRD Satyarthi. Kaur will lead the sect during tomorrow’s ceremonies to perform the last rites of Baba Hardev Singh and son-in-law Avneet Setya who died in a car crash in Montreal, Canada, on May 13.
In her brief message immediately after taking over Savinder Kaur told the sect followers to take a pledge to remain in harmony with each other and take forward the Nirankari mission as Baba Ji (Hardev Singh) wished.
Her anointment marked the end of the longest term of 36 years held by one sect head.
“The decision has put to rest all speculation that were doing the rounds and the names that were proposed by different sections in the sect,” a sect insider at its Delhi headquarters told HT, adding that after ‘sardhajali samaroh’, immediately after the cremation of the two, all activities of the sect would go as per schedule.
Sudeeksha, the youngest of the three daughters of Baba Hardev Singh, was earlier tipped to lead the sect. Before that, the name of Baba’s elder son-in-law Sandeep Khinda was also discussed. The Baba is survived by his wife Savinder Kaur and two other daughters – Samta (eldest) and Renuka.
Kaur used to accompany the Baba in every congregation in India and abroad and as a routine practice he used to make her sit on his right side, seeking equal respect for her from the followers. All the Nirankari preaching centres across the globe used to display photos of both the Baba and Savinder Kaur side by side.
The body of Baba is currently lying in state at Samagam Ground No 8 near Sant Nirankari Colony in north Delhi after being brought from Canada.
Hardev Singh had gone to Canada on that ill-fated trip to work out the logistics for an international congregation planned between June 29 and July 6 in Toronto.
Sources also said that the proposed Toronto congregation would also go as per schedule.