The decision of the SGPC executive to install the portrait of former Budha Dal chief Baba Santa Singh in the Sikh Central Museum at the Golden Temple has come in for criticism from certain sections of the Sikh leadership, including SGPC members.
After the Dal Khalsa on Monday shot off a letter to SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar asking him to reconsider the decision taken at the May 3 meeting of the executive at Anandpur Sahib, former SGPC secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta sought to know from Makkar the achievements of Santa Singh and the rationality behind this decision.
"What have been the achievements or accomplishments of Santa Singh vis-a-vis the Sikh panth. All I know is that he rebuilt the Akal Takht in 1984 on the orders of the then Indira Gandhi government and at the very fag end of his life, he came forward to apologise before the Akal Takht for revoking the excommunication order passed against him," said Calcutta.
Calcutta pointed out that the museum at the Golden Temple had been turned into a photo gallery where portraits of even SGPC members who had passed away were hung. "Has anyone ever bothered to take a glance at the lives of those whose portraits are installed?" he sought to know, while claiming that there could have been certain political compulsions under which Makkar took this decision.
SGPC member Kiranjot Kaur claimed that dissenting voices were being heard ever since this decision was taken. She felt the issue needs to be debated before the SGPC arrives at a final decision. "Before taking such decisions, the executive should initiate a public discussion so as to get a wider viewpoint of the community," she said.
Similar feelings were aired by former SGPC member Jaswinder Singh Advocate, who felt that Santa Singh's very act for which he was excommunicated could not be brushed under the carpet. "To this day we have not forgiven the Congress for the 1984 operation on the Golden Temple and the desecration of the Akal Takht", he said.
Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma too opposed the installation of the portrait of the former Nihang chief at the museum. "Various Sikh groups have expressed their opposition to the move. We agree with them. The SGPC should reconsider its decision," Dhuma said.
Karnail Singh Panjoli, a member of the executive who was present in the Anandpur Sahib meeting, refused to comment on the decision but felt that some policy should be framed for deciding on such potentially sensitive issues.