The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is bracing itself for a confrontation with the ‘Panj Pyaras’ (Five beloved ones of the guru), with religious body chief Avtar Singh Makkar ruling out the removal or change of the jathedars of the Akal Takht, Takht Damdama Sahib and Takht Keshgarh Sahib.
“A change of the jathedars of the (three) Takhts is neither under consideration nor is it on the agenda of the SGPC executive meeting to be held in Chandigarh on November 26,” Makkar said while addressing mediapersons here on Thursday.
The ‘Panj Pyaras’ on Monday had expressed concern at the SGPC executive not showing any respect for its October 23 ‘gurmatta’ (decision taken before the Guru Granth Sahib) asking it to seek the resignation of Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, Takht Damdama Sahib acting jathedar Giani Gurmukh Singh and Takht Keshgarh Sahib jathedar Giani Mal Singh for their role in exonerating Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a blasphemy case on 2007. In their order, the ‘Panj Pyaras’ had said that in case the jathedars did not tender their resignation, they should be removed by the executive.
The ‘Panj Pyaras’ appointed by the SGPC were in charge of the Amrit Sanchar (baptism) ceremony performed every Sunday and Wednesday at the Akal Takht. Annoyed by the ‘gurmatta’, the SGPC had transferred the Panj Pyaras (Satnam Singh Khanda, Satnam Singh, Mangal Singh, Tirlok Singh and Major Singh) to its shrines outside Punjab. However, despite their transfer, the five continue to assert themselves and have expressed their annoyance at the executive for failing to carry out its ‘gurmatta’.
When asked whether the SGPC was contemplating further action against the ‘Panj Pyaras’ for refusing to budge from their stand despite the religious body taking a lenient view of them, Makkar said, “You will see what happens in the coming days.” There was no hesitation on his part when he ruled out a change of the Takht jathedars in the near future.
Asked whether any action would be taken against the ‘Panj Pyaras’ for their defiant stand on the removal of the jathedars, Makkar said, “I will not use the word ‘action’. Instead I will say that there will be ‘sudhar’ (overhauling) in the SGPC.”
When pointed out that Sant Samaj head Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma, who was an ardent supporter of the Shiromani Akali Dal, too, had advised the SGPC to change the three jathedars, Makkar said he respected Dhuma’s advice.
Harmandar Sahib no place for politics
Reacting to the ruckus created by radical elements on Diwali (Bandhi Chhor Divas) at the Golden Temple, he observed that the shrine should not be made a “platform for politics” or for venting out anger. It is the abode of the ‘Waheguru’ and one must ensure that peace and calm prevailed there, he added.
He pointed out that a three-member committee headed by executive committee member Rajinder Singh Mehta had been formed to look into the unsavoury happenings at the shrine on Diwali. The committee is yet to hold its first meeting as Mehta was occupied, he added.
Asked about the presence of some SGPC employees at the radical Sarbat Khalsa, Makkar said the committee would also look into that aspect.
Asked whether the SGPC planned to change its recruitment procedure to ensure that ‘anti-social’ elements and radicals did not get recruited into the gurdwara body, he claimed that all employees are recruited on merit. He found no fault with the recruitment process.
Makkar denied that there had been a decline in the number of devotees/tourists visiting the Golden Temple following the unsavoury incidents.