The Sant Samaj, a conglomerate of various Panthic organisations, has made it clear that it opposes the Sarbat Khalsa (congregation of Sikhs) scheduled for November 10 as such a congregation can be held only at the Akal Takht.
“A Sarbat Khalsa is an important component of Sikh tradition and should be kept away from controversy. You cannot term every gathering of Sikhs as Sarbat Khalsa, an institution that has evolved over the years,” Sant Samaj head Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma said while addressing a press conference here on Friday.
Dhuma, also the head of Damdami Taksal, made it clear that the Samaj would keep away from the proposed Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba village on the outskirts of the city. The call has been given by a couple of radical Sikh groups, including Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and United Akali Dal.
Stressing on the supremacy of the Akal Takht, Dhuma said he was not against the holding of Sarbat Khalsa but it should be held at the Akal Takht. Moreover, before calling a Sarbat Khalsa, a consensus within the Panth had to be built over the issues to be taken up, which the organisers had not done, he added.
“You have to ensure the participation of all Panthic organisations and the Sikh ‘sangat’ across the world after forming a consensus on the agenda,” he added, while throwing light on the Sarbat Khalsas held at the Akal Takht in the past, including the one in 1920 that led to the formation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the SAD.
He said the Damdami Taksal was behind the organisation of the last Sarbat Khalsa held at the Akal Takht on January 26, 1986, in which a number of important decisions were taken, including the one to rebuild the Akal Takht through ‘kar sewa’ by the Sikh ‘sangat’.
Dhuma’s opposition to the event is on expected lines as the Sant Samaj over the years has sided with the SAD-BJP government on important Panthic issues. Moreover, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal met Dhuma at Mehta Chowk on Wednesday and urged him to use his influence among Panthic groups to call off the event.
He said the proposed gathering would undermine the tradition of Sarbat Khalsa and in future some groups might use it for gathering Sikhs and discussing Panthic issues.
“There are some anti-Panthic elements which were hatching conspiracies to harm the Akal Takht and SGPC. We must counter such forces,” he suggested.
He disagreed with Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh that a Sarbat Khalsa could be called only by the jathedar in consultation with the heads of other Sikh Takhts. “If the Takht jathedars lose their credibility, the Khalsa Panth itself can call a Sarbat Khalsa,” he added.
Wants Akal Takht jathedar replaced
However, while toeing the government line on Sarbat Khalsa, the Sant Samaj leader did not approve of the decision of the ruling SAD to continue with the current jathedars of the Sikh Takhts, including Giani Gurbachan Singh, because of the manner in which they had pardoned the Sirsa dera head.
“The jathedars of the Takhts who pardoned the dera head must be asked to quit or should be sacked. Acting jathedars can take their place,” he said.
When asked about the threat issued by the Dal Khalsa and SAD (Panch Pardhani) of not allowing Giani Gurbachan Singh to make the customary address to the ‘quam’ on Diwali from the Golden Temple complex, Dhuma said he endorsed their view.
“Giani Gurbachan Singh should not be allowed to address the ‘quam’ on Diwali. The SGPC can entrust this duty to the head granthi of Harmandar Sahib or any other senior granthi,” he suggested.