A day after Sikh hardliners announced to hold “Sarbat Khalsa” (congregation of Sikhs) on November 10, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Tuesday said the event would not be allowed at the Golden Temple complex.
“These groups don’t have the authority to summon such a gathering. Only the Akal Takht can hold a Sarbat Khalsa. So, there is no question of permitting such a gathering in the Golden Temple complex,” SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar said in an informal chat with the media here on Tuesday.
Makkar made this statement after he was informed that certain “Panthic” groups had submitted a joint application to SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh seeking permission to hold the congregation at Diwan Manji Sahib Hall in the Golden Temple complex.
The call for the “Sarbat Khalsa” was first given by some “Panthic” groups led by Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader Simranjit Singh Mann, United Akali Dal leader Bhai Mokham Singh and a number of others soon after the desecration incidents of Guru Granth Sahib. The call was endorsed by several other “Panthic” leaders and splinter Akali groups.
In a letter to the SGPC, the “Panthic” groups said the “Sarbat Khalsa” was called to discuss the current situation following incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and the decisions taken by the Takht jathedars (priests) to exonerate Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The “Sarbat Khasla” aims to evolve a consensus in the “Panth” on the appointment of “jathedars” of five Takhts, reads the application.
“The existing system does not give a free hand to the “jathedars” for carrying out functions. Being employees of the SGPC, their appointment and removal depends on the gurdwara body or the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) that controls the SGPC,” states the letter.
The recent happenings and the manner in which the “Panj Pyaras” were first sacked and then reinstated raised eyebrows in the “Panthic” circles, with radical leaders accusing the Badals of lowering the status and dignity of the Akal Takht. They feel the Badals were directly responsible for the sacking and reinstatement of the “Panj Pyaras”.
The letter to the SGPC was signed by Bhai Mokham Singh, SAD (Amritsar) leaders Gurdeep Singh Bathinda, Dhian Singh Mand, Baba Chamkaur Singh, Jaskaran Singh Kahansingh Wala and SS Sakira.