Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar has said that as per Sikh tenets only the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhism, can summon Sarbat Khalsa (the congregation of Sikhs).
“None other than the Akal Takht has the authority to call such gathering,” Makkar said in a press release issued on Wednesday.
The SGPC chief maintained that Sarbat Khalsa is called on very rare occasions, especially when an issue or a problem arises that has a bearing on the entire community.
“It is then that the representatives of various Sikh religious organisations and even the ‘quam’ (community) at large get together to take stock of the situation and find a solution that has binding on the entire community,” he added.
Citing past precedents, Makkar said the first Sarbat Khalsa was called in 1920, when various issues, including those related to the control of Sikh shrines, were confronting the community.
The Sarbat Khalsa in 1920 led to the formation of the SGPC, the religious parliament of the Sikhs, and then the formation of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), he said.
The second Sarbat Khalsa, he said, was called in the wake of the Operation Bluestar in1984 to take stock of the situation and the imprisonment of the Sikh leadership, including the then SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra and SAD president Sant Harchand Singh Longowal.
In such a situation the Akal Takht took upon itself the responsibility of leading the ‘panth’ and gave a call for the Sarbat Khalsa in which a decision was then taken to ‘free’ the Golden Temple and 37 other gurdwaras from the ‘control’ of the security forces, which had raided these shrines.
The last time that the Sarbat Khalsa was called in February 1986 without specifying that the particular call from the Akal Takht was given at the instance of militant groups, Makkar said.
It was in this gathering that a resolution was passed by the militant groups for the formation of Khalistan, an independent Sikh state, he said not elaborating much about the congregation held at the Golden Temple complex.
The SGPC chief appealed to the Sikh community to ignore the call given by certain groups for holding Sarbat Khalsa on November 10.
The call has been given by SAD (Amritsar), United Akali Dal and other groups demanding the Takht jathedars be sacked for their role in pardoning the Dera Sacha Sauda head besides discussing the incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib.