In an unprecedented development, a group of ‘hazoori raagis’ (kirtan performers at Harmandar Sahib), preachers and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) employees confronted Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh on Tuesday, calling him ‘paapi’ (sinner), and demanding his resignation for failing to uphold the dignity and integrity of the highest temporal seat of Sikhism in the Dera Sacha Sauda case.
This embarrassing and tense encounter took place on the Golden Temple premises soon after the ‘bhog’ of ‘akhand paath’ at Diwan Manji Sahib hall for repentance over incidents of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib.
This is perhaps the first time that the jathedar has publicly faced humiliation, and that too from SGPC staffers.
As the jathedar, along with his security staff and the SGPC task force, hurried towards his residence, the ‘hazoori raagis’ and others moved fast to catch up with him and force him to halt.
“Jathedar sahib, resign and go home as you are no longer worthy of sitting on this high seat,” some ‘raagis’ shouted after stopping the jathedar outside the hall. The ‘raagis’ were joined by SGPC ‘parcharaks’ (preachers), dhadis’, ‘kavishars’, ‘katha-vachaks’ and ‘ardasias’ (those performing ‘ardas’).
“Jathedar sahib, takhti gal vich pa ke quam de samney aao (hang a slate around your neck and appear before the Sikh community),” one of the protesters shouted, while reminding others of the punishment handed out to former chief minister Surjit Singh Barnala and ex-governor Buta Singh by the Akal Takht. The two had to wear ‘takhtis’ (slates) proclaiming them as ‘paapis’ (sinners) after they had disobeyed Takht directions.
‘Hazoori raagis’ Bhai Karaj Singh, Harcharan Singh and Ravinder Singh, ‘ardasia’ Kulwinder Singh and SGPC superviser Surjit Singh asked the jathedar why Sirsa dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had been pardoned without even appearing before the Akal Takht. They also confronted him on the decision to withdraw pardon.
“Repent for the sacrilege of the Sikh scripture and pray for the two Sikhs who died in police firing in Kotkapura,” many were heard saying.
The ‘bhog’ ceremony at Manji Sahib was the first public function that Giani Gurbachan Singh had chosen to attend after the September 24 verdict of exonerating the dera head in the 2007 blasphemy case. He had been avoiding public functions due to security reasons.
The jathedar did not attend phone calls throughout the day. The SGPC refused to comment on the incident.