Akal Takht asks influential NRI Sikhs to take steps to check hate crime

  • HT Correspondent, HindustanTimes, Amritsar
  • Updated: Dec 14, 2015 19:32 IST
Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said, “We are facing an identity problem in the western world and are being associated with another community. ” (HT Photo )

The Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhism, has called upon all influential non resident Indians (NRI’s) belonging to the Sikh community, to take concrete steps in their respective countries for checking hate crime against members of the community.

“We are facing an identity problem in the western world and are being associated with another community. We are being labeled as terrorists or supporters of terrorist groups that are targeting nations in the west. This has made us easy targets of hate crime since the 9/11 terror strikes in the United States,” Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh stated this after presiding over a meeting of the Sikh high priests at the Akal Takht secretariat, here on Monday.

The clergy in their meeting appealed to all ‘influential’ NRI Sikhs, particularly the elected representatives in the US, Canada, England, Germany and other western nations to explain to their respective governments everything that was there to be explained about Sikhs and Sikhism. “The separate and distinct identity of Sikhs needs to be explained so that members of the community do not fall prey to hate crime,” the clergy stated.

“Not just the elected representatives, but all Sikhs who have earned a name for themselves in their adopted country and are close to the corridors of power, need to take up this public relations exercise. This exercise can also be undertaken in educational institutions and even at religious and social gatherings,” Giani Gurbachan Singh added.

‘Ardas’ issue deferred to next meeting

The issue regarding the changes made in the ‘ardas’ (prayer) by the management of a gurdwara in Dubai (UAE) also came up for discussion at the meeting. However, the clergy has put the matter on hold and would take it up in its next meeting, the date of which was yet to be announced.

Briefing the media after the meeting, Giani Gurbachan Singh said they had received a clarification through e-mail sent by Surjit Singh Matharoo, president of the Dubai-based gurdwara committee. The Jathedar showed the clarification to the media.

Matharoo claimed in the letter that on the day the revised ‘ardas’ was recited in the shrine, he was out of the country and came to know only on his return. A Sikh by the name of Darshan Singh recited the revised ‘ardas’. The jathedar said Matharoo had also tendered an apology.

After discussing the issue and taking the opinion of some Sikh scholars, the clergy decided to again take up this matter in its next meeting.

Committee formed in ‘ragi’ case

The jathedar disclosed that a three-member committee had been formed to take up the plea of Bhai Balbir Singh, a ‘ragi’ who has been banned by the Akal Takht from performing ‘kirtan’ in gurdwaras and at functions. This ban was imposed a couple of years back after the ‘ragi’’ participated in a function of the Nurmahal-based Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan.

The committee would comprise of Giani Maan Singh, a ‘granthi’ of Harmandir Sahib and Bhai Ravinder Singh, a ‘hazoori ragi’. The third member would be the secretary of the ‘dharam prachar’ committee of the SGPC.

Besides Giani Gurbachan Singh, the others who participated in the meeting included Takht Keshgarh Sahib Jathedar Giani Mal Singh, Takht Damdama Sahib acting Jathedar Giani Gurmukh Singh and Takht Patna Sahib Jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh. Bhai Raghbir Singh, a ‘granthi’ of Harmandir Sahib completed the five-member quorum as no one from Takht Hazoor Sahib, Nanded turned up for the meeting.

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