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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Akal Takht ignores Giani Iqbal Singh’s dismissal

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  Amritsar, March 21, 2014
First Published: 07:50 IST(21/3/2014) | Last Updated: 10:43 IST(21/3/2014)

In a step that is bound to bring two Takhts into direct confrontation, the Akal Takht sought to set aside the dismissal of Giani Iqbal Singh as jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib.

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The presence of Giani Iqbal Singh at the meeting of the Sikh high priests here on Thursday was enough to send a clear message to the management committee of Takht Patna Sahib that the Akal Takht continues to recognise Giani Iqbal Singh as the jathedar of this important Takht in the capital city of Bihar.

The management committee of Takht Patna Sahib had placed Giani Iqbal Singh under suspension after a group clash between two groups at Takht Patna Sahib on the Gurpurab of Guru Gobind Singh on January 7 and dismissed him on March 17. A letter signed by committee’s general secretary Charanjit Singh had been sent to Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh in January informing him of the decision.

In the letter, the copies of which were circulated among mediapersons here by a ‘messenger’ of the Patna Sahib management committee, Giani Gurbachan Singh had been requested not to allow Giani Iqbal Singh to attend the meeting of the Sikh high priests in his capacity as jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib.

However, ignoring the pleas of the committee, the Akal Takht jathedar allowed Giani Iqbal Singh to attend the meeting. Giani Iqbal Singh had remained absent from the last two meetings of the Sikh high priests held in January and February.

When questioned by the media , Giani Gurbachan Singh denied receiving any letter concerning Giani Iqbal Singh’s dismissal, saying, “I have not received any letter. So in the absence of any communication, for us Giani Iqbal Singh is still the jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib.”

While the media was in possession of copies of the letter, the Akal Takht head denied having received any such intimation from Patna. The clash in January had taken place between the supporters of Giani Iqbal Singh and those aligned with the Takht Patna Sahib management committee. The clash occurred after Giani Partap Singh’s appointment as additional head granthi of Takht Patna Sahib was announced on the stage from where the religious function connected with the Gurpurab was being conducted.

Giani Iqbal Singh had objected to this appointment on the grounds that he was not consulted. Thereafter, supporters of both groups came to blows and several turbans tumbled to the ground. Though the Akal Takht jathedar had received a detailed report from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee (SGPC) on the clash, he was in favour of ‘collecting more evidence’ so as to pinpoint those who had violated the ‘maryada’ (tenets) during the auspicious occasion.

He had made it clear that those who had violated the ‘maryada’ would not be spared.

Despite also having received the detailed report, including media clippings and CDs of the clash, the jathedar chose to give recognition to Giani Iqbal Singh as head of Patna Sahib. Both the factions have got cases and counter-cases registered against each other. Takht declares New Zealand Sikhs ‘tankhiya’ In another decision, the clergy declared two Sikhs of a Hamilton-based gurdwara in New Zealand as ‘tankhiya’.

The two were identified as Ravinder Singh and Iqbal Singh, members of the shrine management committee.
The two were held guilty as they had debarred certain Sikhs from paying obeisance at the shrine. The ‘tankhiya’ tag will remain on them till the time they do not appear before the Akal Takht and seek forgiveness.

Meanwhile, the Akal Takht has given another chance to the eight management committee members of Gurdwara Buddha Jaur Sahib in Rajasthan to appear before the Takht and seek forgiveness. The eight were declared ‘tankhiya’ in January after they failed to appear before the Takht despite being summoned. They were to appear for the Takht on Thursday but once again failed to do so.

They had been summoned to the Takht to sort out matters related to the functioning of the shrine. The Takht had received certain adverse reports from Sikhs of the area about the management of the shrine. Nanakshahi calendar discussed Canada-based Sikh scholar Pal Singh Purewal, the architect of the Nanakshahi calendar, met the Sikh priests on Thursday. He appealed to them to direct the SGPC to revert to the ‘original’ Nanakshahi calendar prepared by him in 2003.

The SGPC after recognising the 2003 calendar had brought about certain amendments in 2009, fixing dates of some important Sikh events and occasions. This amended calendar was approved by the SGPC and the Akal Takht in 2010 and since then has been followed by the Sikh community.

However, a fresh controversy has now again arisen, with a section of the Sant Samaj handing over a memorandum to the Akal Takht jathedar seeking to revert to the traditional Bikrami calendar that the Sikhs followed prior to 2003. In the memorandum, they had contended that even the amended calendar of 2010 continued to cause confusion in Sikh minds. The memorandum is still under consideration with the Akal Takht jathedar as the move of the Sant Samaj is being opposed by a section of the hardliners.

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