The Monday meeting convened by Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh to discuss racial attacks on Sikhs abroad and incidents of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib turned out to be a ‘no-show’ as none of the invitees, including senior officials of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), reached the venue.
Scheduled to begin at 11am, the jathedar had no option but to call the meeting off. Senior officials of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), members of the Dharam Prachar Committee and managers of some select gurdwaras were to attend the meeting.
Sources told HT that the SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar was not in favour of the meeting and had directed officials not to attend it. Makkar, it is learnt, had questioned the very logic behind the meeting as the SGPC had already discussed the issue on April 10.
“We have already formed a committee to study cases of racial attacks on Sikhs abroad and to suggest ways and means to curbing them. There was no need for the jathedar to call this meeting,” a senior SGPC official said.
Besides SGPC members and officials, the April 10 meeting was also attended by some Sikh historians, scholars and heads of different religious groups, including the Damdami Taksal.
The jathedar, too, had sent out invitations to historians and scholars, but withdrew them on Sunday after it was conveyed to him that they had already made suggestions on April 10.
Communication gap: Jathedar
The jathedar termed the development as “communication gap”. “When I reached office, I was told by the personal assistant of the SGPC president that he (Makkar) wished to meet me,” jathedar Gurbachan Singh said, ruling out differences with the SGPC.
“The meeting will probably be held after I meet the SGPC chief,” he told mediapersons, after officially calling off the meeting at 2.30pm.
Makkar, who was out of the city, said, “I will comment on the development only after reaching Amritsar.” He, however, clarified that there were no differences with the jathedar.
Attempt to belittle head priest?
Many in the SGPC see this as an attempt to belittle the Akal Takht jathedar. They pointed out that the jathedar had on April 1 taken the decision to convene a meeting to discuss racial attacks and informed the SGPC in this regard. “Without taking the jathedar into confidence, Makkar held a meeting to discuss the issue on April 10 and didn’t even invite the jathedar to the meeting,” sources said.
Barring jathedar’s staff and securitymen, no SGPC official was seen at the Akal Takht secretariat at the time the meeting was scheduled to take place on Monday.
This is perhaps for the first time that differences have come to the fore between jathedar Gurbachan Singh and the SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar.