Punjab unrest: SAD rules out removal of Takht heads
Refusing to concede more ground to Sikh radicals, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday ruled out the removal of the five Takht jathedars, while resolving to act tough against protesters and uphold law and order in Punjab that has been rocked by unrest for the past six weeks.punjab Updated: Nov 04, 2015 09:40 IST
Refusing to concede more ground to Sikh radicals, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday ruled out the removal of the five Takht jathedars, while resolving to act tough against protesters and uphold law and order in Punjab that has been rocked by unrest for the past six weeks.
Sikh hardliners have been seeking the removal of the jathedars after the Akal Takht on September 24 gave pardon — which was later withdrawn to Sirsa dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the 2007 blasphemy case.
During the closed-door SAD core committee meeting attended by a majority of the Akali leaders and chaired by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the hardliners’ demand for the scalp of the Takht jathedars, including the Akal Takht jathedar, was hotly debated. The SAD leaders pointed out that such “knee-jerk” reactions giving the impression that the Badal dispensation is on the back foot on the current religio-political unrest should be stopped.
“There is no question of seeking resignations of the jathedars or the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) dropping them,” a top SAD leader told Hindustan Times.
The core committee decided that ceremonial lighting of the Golden Temple would be held on the occasion of Diwali. However, there will be no fireworks at the shrine this time. Following the recent incidents of sacrilege, the SGPC had decided not to have fireworks as well as ceremonial lighting at the Golden Temple this Diwali.
The top decision-making panel of the SAD, which held the meeting here for more than four hours, dwelt at length on the current crisis triggered by a series of shocking incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and the political fallout of numerous damage-control decisions the state government has taken ever since the statewide protests erupted, party sources said.
In a bid to dispel growing impression that the Akali Dal has lost its following among the masses, the SAD leaders decided to hold mass contact programmes beginning with “sadbhawna” rallies across the state. The first such rally will be held at Bathinda on November 23. Later, mass mobilising rallies will be held at Moga (November 28), Gurdaspur (December 1), Jalandhar (December 4) and Tarn Taran (December 7). The first phase will culminate at Amritsar on December 20. Later, similar rallies will be held in other districts.
“The objective of these rallies is to bounce back on the political scene and send a strong message across that our mass base, despite the protests, is intact,” a cabinet minister and core committee member said, pointing out that a majority of the leaders asked the CM that from now on government should be seen on the front foot.
Sources say a section of leaders urged Badal to give a free hand to deputy CM Sukhbir Badal in acting tough with troublemakers so as to maintain law and order.
“We will not allow anybody to disturb peace, communal harmony and law and order at any cost. There are forces working from outside the country and trying desperately to disrupt peace by holding marches and Sarbat Khalsa. We will deal firmly with such elements,” a top SAD leader said, requesting anonymity.