Abiding by the decision of the Panj Pyaras (five beloved ones of the guru), members of radical Sikh groups didn’t allow Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh to present ‘siropa’ to the relatives of Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh — the assassins of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The duo was hanged on this day in 1989.
A ‘bhog’ (prayer meeting) was organised at Gurdwara Jhanda Bunga inside the Golden Temple complex by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Wednesday.
Leaders of the Dal Khalsa, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD-Amritsar), SAD (1920), United Akali Dal and other ‘Panthic’ groups had made it clear to SGPC officials that they would not allow Giani Gurbachan Singh to ‘play an active role’ during the ‘bhog’ ceremony.
Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwarpal Singh and SAD (Amritsar) secretary JS Sakira spoke to Golden Temple manager Sulkhan Singh regarding it before the jathedar’s arrival.
“We had made it clear that any active role by the jathedar at the ceremony would provoke them as well as other devotees. We told SGPC officials that he could come to the ceremony, but only in his capacity as a member of the sangat”, Kanwarpal told HT.
The Dal Khalsa leader pointed out that they were simply carrying out the orders of the Panj Pyaras, who had called for a ‘social boycott’ of Giani Gurbachan Singh along with other Takht jathedars.
The Panj Pyaras’ orders came last week after the SGPC executive failed to remove the three jathedars from their posts for their role in exonerating Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a blasphemy case.
Subsequently, four Panj Pyaras were sacked by SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar on grounds that they had overstepped their limits. Makkar said their duty was to perform ‘amrit sanchar’ (baptism ceremony) and not issue directives to the Panth’ — a right reserved for only Takht jathedars.
Jathedar quietly sits with devotees
Midway through the ‘bhog’ ceremony, Giani Gurbachan Singh, accompanied by members of the SGPC task force, paid obeisance at Gurdwara Jhanda Bunga and then quietly sat down beside devotees. None among those present, including some junior SGPC employees, acknowledged his presence and nor did anyone exchange the customary greetings with him.
Former Akal Takht jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vidanti also completely ignored Giani Gurbachan Singh, who left the hall as the ceremony was nearing its end.
Despite the function being organised by the SGPC, the Akal Takht jathedar was not asked to present ‘siropas’ (honour) to Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh’s relatives.