Buckling under pressure, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is likely to oust three of the five Sikh high priests, who had come under widespread criticism from the community and the Panj Pyaras for their role in granting pardon to Sirsa dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a blasphemy case.
“The ouster of heads of the three Takhts in Punjab is on the cards. A final decision will be taken after the ‘gurpurab’ of Guru Ram Dassji on October 29,” said top SGPC officials.
The axe is likely to fall on Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, jathedar of Takht Keshgarh Sahib Giani Mal Singh and acting jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib Giani Gurmukh Singh. The three Takht jathedars along with Takht Patna Sahib jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh and Takht Hazur Sahib granthi Giani Ram Singh had taken the controversial decision to exonerate Dera Sacha Sauda chief.
While the first three Takhts are under the purview of the SGPC --- the mini parliament of Sikhs --- Takht Hazur Sahib and Takht Patna Sahib are managed by their individual boards. The final decision on removal of these two Takht heads lies with the respective boards.
Earlier, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar held a closed door meeting with Giani Gurbachan Singh. The one-on-one meeting was held at the jathedar’s office and no one was allowed inside. The Takht Patna Sahib jathedar, who was with Giani Gurbachan Singh prior to Makkar’s arrival, was also asked to leave.
After the meeting when Makkar was asked about the fate of the jathedar, he simply smiled but did not utter a word. Makkar’s body language suggested that he may have convinced the jathedar to quit.
Top SGPC officials, who are attaching considerable importance to the meeting, indicated that the jathedars were told that they would have to give up their posts in view of the crisis triggered by the controversial pardon granted to Ram Rahim Singh.
Sources said the executive will first politely ask the three jathedars to put in their resignations and most likely they will oblige. In case of defiance, the executive will sack them straight away.
The five Sikh priests had on September 24 pardoned the Sirsa dera head after accepting his apology letter. However, owing to immense pressure from the community, they had to withdraw their decision on October 16.
On October 21, the Panj Pyaras (the five beloved ones of the guru) summoned the jathedars before the Akal Takht - the highest temporal seat of Sikks - to explain their decision to the community. The Panj Pyaras were sacked by the SGPC the same day, a move that triggered major uproar among community members. Under pressure, the SGPC reinstated the Panj Pyaras on October 25.