Taking a serious view of the fresh summons issued by the Panj Pyaras, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar has summoned an emergency meeting of the 15-member executive here on January 1.
Indications are that the executive may “take drastic action”, including dismissal of the Panj Pyaras.
Expressing displeasure at the fresh orders issued by the Panj Pyaras to the executive body, Makkar advised the Panj Pyaras not to exceed their brief.
“They are appointed by the SGPC and their duty is ‘amrit sanchar’ (baptism), so they should stay in their limits. We respect them but this does not mean that they should overstep their jurisdiction,” Makkar said while answering queries from the media here on Wednesday.
Asked whether the executive was contemplating stern action against them, he replied, “Wait for our meeting.” He regretted that the Panj Pyaras were trying to divide and confuse the Sikh Panth. He appealed to Sikh religious groups like the Damdami Taksal to use their influence to prevail upon the Panj Pyaras.
Panj Pyaras adamant
Despite threats of dismissal, the Panj Pyaras made it clear that they would stand by their ‘gurmata’ (religious decree issued in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib) issued on October 23. The Panj Pyaras had directed the SGPC executive to dismiss the jathedars of the Akal Takht, Takht Keshgarh Sahib and Takht Damdama Sahib for undermining the authority of the Akal Takht. The three takhts are under the control of the SGPC and its executive has the sole power of appointing or dismissing jathedars.
The ‘gurmata’ was issued after the jathedars had pardoned Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a blasphemy case in September. The pardon was revoked a few days later following criticism from a large section of Sikhs, including SGPC members loyal to the Shiromani Akali Dal.
The Panj Pyaras, after lying low for two months, issued fresh orders on Tuesday asking the executive to dismiss the jathedars by January 2. If the executive failed in its duty, the Panj Pyaras would announce the “next line of action” the same day.
“Our order is final and there is no question of withdrawing it,” said Bhai Satnam Singh Khanda and Bhai Satnam Singh, two of the Panj Pyaras while talking to the media here. The other three -- Bhai Tirlok Singh, Bhai Mangal Singh and Bhai Major Singh -- were not present.
The jathedars whose dismissal is being demanded are Giani Gurbachan Singh of the Akal Takht, Giani Mal Singh of Takht Keshgarh Sahib and Giani Gurmukh Singh of Takht Damdama Sahib.
Attempts to defuse situation
Meanwhile, attempts were made to defuse the situation and bring about a consensus between the SGPC and the Panj Pyaras. Sikh Students Federation (Grewal group) president Gurcharan Singh Grewal, who is also an SGPC member, held separate discussions with Makkar and with Bhai Satnam Singh Khanda and Bhai Satnam Singh.
“In the interests of the Panth a showdown must be averted,” Grewal told the media. However, his efforts did not yield results as Bhai Satnam Singh Khanda categorically told him that the executive must carry out their order if they wished to defuse the situation. He also remained firm on the January 2 deadline.