For the 400 men who have chosen to make the Damdami Taksal at Chowk Mehta their home, there is no authority beyond that of their head — the mukhi — Harnam Singh Dhumma. HT spoke to him:
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale played an important role in Sikh history when the Sikhs were being dealt with unfairly. Many issues related to Sikhs have not been addressed since 1947. They continue to rankle the community. No government resolved them; rather it chose the path of conflict. And look at the price Punjab, especially its youth, paid. Till Sikh issues are resolved and find closure, such situations can recur.
ON ROLE OF TAKSAL
The basic tenet with which the Taksal was created by Guru Gobind Singh in 1706 remains the same. We baptise Sikhs; educate them in gurmat and propagate Sikhism. Now we also address social evils such as drug abuse, female foeticide and generate awareness about environment.
ON CONFLICT WITH SIKH PREACHERS
There is no turf war with preachers. They are contributing in their own way. We are not in the game of numbers. We don’t want people to follow the Taksal, we want people to follow Sikhism. We are not in the race to gather crowds.
The SGPC is the authentic body of the Sikhs to manage gurdwaras. We support the SGPC. It has shortcomings and needs to improve, especially the people we choose as members. They use the committee as a stepping stone into politics, which is avoidable.
ON PROXIMITY WITH SAD
We appreciate the SAD’s creating memorials to events in Sikh history. In Punjab, politics and religion can’t be separated, so anything we (religious heads) say gets mixed up with politics.