A defiant Giani Gurmukh Singh was removed as jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib — one of the five temporal seats of Sikhism — by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in a meeting of its executive at Fatehgarh Sahib on Friday.
It was the culmination of series of statements by him against the SGPC and the clergy, and came a day after he alleged that Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal had dictated terms to the clergy for a pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in 2015 that was later revoked.
Giani Harpreet Singh, head granthi of Gurudwara Sri Muktsar Sahib, has for now been given additional charge as jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib in Bathinda district.
Gurmukh — appointed as jathedar in place of Balwant Singh Nandgarh, who too had flayed the SAD leadership over the dera issue, in January 2015 — hit back saying that the decision will “further erode faith of Sikhs in the Akal Takht and the SGPC”. He has now been made head granthi of Gurdwara Nauwin Patshahi, Dhamtan Sahib, in Jind district of Haryana, which is considered a punishment posting. The post of head granthi of Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple) has also been taken away from him, and for now been given to Giani Malkit Singh, who is holding that post at Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh in Amritsar.
The SGPC is the appointing authority of the clergy, which is headed by the Akal Takht jathedar and has jathedars of the four other temporal seats as members.
Among other reasons for Gurmukh’s removal, SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar cited his absence from the Monday meeting of jathedars at the Akal Takht in Amritsar where 39 Sikh leaders were given religious punishment for violating an edict of the Takht by seeking poll support from the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda. The boycott-dera edict had been issued in 2007 after the sect’s chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, allegedly dressed up as the tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh.
Accusing Gurmukh of defying the Sikh maryada (code of ethics) and issuing controversial statements, Badungar said that he presented the agenda to remove Gurmukh, and it was passed unanimously at the special meet. But sources said at least five members initially objected to it; and that’s why it took five hours for Badungar, a known protégé of Parkash Singh Badal, to pacify them and complete the process. Two members -- Surjit Singh Kalabula and Gurcharan Singh Grewal -- remained unconvinced even as the meeting that began at 11.30 am lasted six hours.