Panj Pyaras ask jathedars to resign over pardon to dera head

  • HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Oct 23, 2015 19:45 IST
Panj Pyaras at the Akal Takht in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar on Friday (Sameer Sehgal/HT Photo)

In an unprecedented development, the Panj Pyaras (five beloved ones of the Guru) of the Akal Takht on Friday morning asked the five Sikh high priests to resign for failing to respond to their summons over their decision to pardon Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the 2007 blasphemy case without taking the ‘sangat’ (Sikh community) into confidence recently.

Before seeking the resignation of the jathedars, the Panj Pyaras waited for them from 10.20am to 11.55 am at the Akal Takht, highest temporal seat of Sikhism, in the Golden Temple complex here. When nobody turned up, the jathedars were asked to resign. The Panj Pyaras said, “We had summoned the jathedars to seek their explanation but they don’t care about Sikh tenets. They should resign immediately.”

The Panj Pyaras also asked the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) executive body to immediately withdraw all facilities given to the jathedars.

Not authorised, Says Makkar

Addressing a press conference in Amritsar on Friday evening, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar termed the Panj Pyaras’ summoning of the Akal Takht jathedar and the other Sikh high priests an “illegal procedure”. “They are not authorised to summon the jathedars or take such decisions,” a tense Makkar said, adding that the Panj Pyaras had already been placed under suspension on Thursday.

After a lot of persuasion, a visibly shaken Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh faced the media, later, to reiterate his authority on Sikh religious affairs. “The Takht jathedars are supreme. The Panj Pyaras have no right to summon the jathedars, as they are mere granthis (priests),” he said. In Sikh history, Guru Gobind Singh had given Panj Pyaras the supreme power to summon even the Guru.

The SGPC designates the ‘Panj Pyaras’ officially to perform the ‘amrit sanchar’ (baptism) ceremony and leading ‘nagar kirtans’ (religious processions) on important occasions. They have dared to summon jathedars Giani Gurbachan Singh (Akal Takht), Giani Mal Singh (Keshgarh Sahib), Giani Gurbaksh Singh (acting, Damdama Sahib), and Giani Iqbal Singh (Patna Sahib), besides Hazoor Sahib ‘granthi’ (priest) Bhai Ram Singh, on behalf of the Sikh ‘sangat’. The Panj Pyaras had claimed they were under pressure from the ‘sangat’ that had not liked the pardoning of the Sirsa dera head, who had attired himself as the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, at a congregation in 2007, triggering clashes between dera followers and Sikh activists.

Akalis attacked in gurdwara

Kapurthala: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders had a narrow escape at State Gurdwara on Friday here after Sikhs angry over a series of desecration incidents stormed in to attack them and the police cordon failed to hold them.

Akali leaders, including Bholath legislator Bibi Jagir Kaur, former minister Bibi Upinderjit Kaur, SAD district president Jarnail Singh Wahid, and district planning committee chairman Sarabjit Singh Makkar, were here to attend the ‘bhog’ (concluding ceremony) of the ‘akhand paath’ (continuous recitation of the sacred text) organised to pray for peace and harmony in the state after pages from the Sikh holy book were found torn at several places recently.

Cautious after Wednesday’s incident when Sikh protesters had not let Akali leaders into the gurdwara, the district police had secured the place of worship on Friday, but when Sikh protesting near the gurdwara didn’t get even five minutes to speak with the Akali leaders, they rushed in through a barricade of more than 400 cops towards the end of the ceremony and raised pro-Khalistan and anti-SAD slogans.

As the armed agitators smashed the cars of the SAD leaders and workers to stop them from slipping out of the backdoor, police could only watch. A frightened Youth Akali Dal general secretary Sukhdev Singh Sukha Kadupur pulled out his revolver inside the gurdwara.

SAD MLA’s car comes under attack

The protesters blocking the Talwandi Sabo road here over desecration of Guru Granth Sahib attacked the vehicle carrying Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) legislator Darshan Singh Kotfatta and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member Amrik Singh Kotshamir on Friday. The leader were on their way to Takht Damdama Sahib to pay obeisance when attacked.

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