Former BJP MP from Amritsar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, has tendered an apology before the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhism, in the wake of controversy over his alleged remarks hurting Sikh sentiments and feelings.
“If I have made certain remarks that have hurt Sikh sentiments, then as a humble Sikh I plead for forgiveness. I have the highest respect for Sikhism and for the Akal Takht, before which I bow everyday", stated the single-page apology letter by Sidhu received by Akal Takht jathedar, Giani Gurbachan Singh.
Disclosing the contents of the letter before the media here on Monday, the jathedar made it clear that he alone cannot take a decision on this letter.
“The letter will be discussed in the next meeting of the Singh Sahibs (high priests) and thereafter a decision will be taken”, said the jathedar, without specifying the date on which the meeting will be held.
If the Sikh high priests are satisfied with the written apology, they can let off Sidhu, with a warning. But if the jathedars are not satisfied, then they have the authority to summon the BJP leader and seek an explanation about the remarks that he made against Sikhism. Even after receiving the explanation, the clergy can award the former MP 'tankha' (religious punishment).
The contents of the letter were identical to the statement the BJP leader had issued on Saturday. He referred to himself as a “humble servant of god, who bows before the Akal Takht everyday”.
He further said, “My religion is sacred to me and my life is mentored by the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib”.
Sidhu courted controversy after he attributed certain verses of Guru Arjan Dev in the ‘gurbani' to Arjuna of the Mahabharata during the course of his public address in Ludhiana last month. This caused an uproar with many Sikh organisations and even the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) accusing Sidhu of distorting ‘gurbani’.
Letters were written to the Akal Takht, calling for summoning the former MP and holding him guilty of religious misconduct. The SAD, which had been at the receiving end with Sidhu consistently slamming the party for the past one year, finally found something to try and corner the BJP leader. Visuals of Sidhu’s controversial speech are already with the Akal Takht.
Giani Gurbachan Singh had acknowledged having received a number of letters from Sikh organisations against Sidhu. His stand had been that these complaints would be taken up by the high priests at their next meeting.
By sending an apology, the cricketer-turned-politician has made an attempt to counter the Akali charge against him. Now, the clergy cannot excommunicate Sidhu and even the 'tankha' , if awarded, has to be mild in nature.
Sidhu's apology has come after his cavalcade was attacked by some miscreants during poll campaign in Jammu recently. He had blamed the SAD and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for these attacks and had asked Badal to deal with him ‘politically’.
The SAD leadership has distanced itself from these attacks, claiming that Sikhs, who were angry with Sidhu for distorting ‘gurbani’, had given vent to their feelings by targeting the BJP leader.