Sin and atonement: The politics of apology at Golden Temple | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Sin and atonement: The politics of apology at Golden Temple

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who performed ‘sewa (service)’ at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Monday, is not the first politician to seek forgiveness at the holiest shrine of the Sikhs. But, he is the first non-Sikh to do so and that too voluntarily.

punjab Updated: Jul 19, 2016 10:56 IST
HT Correspondent
(left to right) Surjit Singh Barnala, Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Buta Singh and Bikram Singh Majithia.
(left to right) Surjit Singh Barnala, Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Buta Singh and Bikram Singh Majithia. (HT Photo)

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who performed ‘sewa (service)’ at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Monday, is not the first politician to seek forgiveness at the holiest shrine of the Sikhs. But, he is the first non-Sikh to do so and that too voluntarily.

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Here are other prominent political figures who atoned at Golden Temple in the recent past:

Surjit Singh Barnala: The former Punjab chief minister was declared ‘tankhaiya (derelict)’ and excommunicated from the Sikh community by Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, for sending police into the Golden Temple in 1986 to flush out pro-Khalistan militants. Five years later, he submitted before the Sikh clergy and was made to repent by performing a 21-day ‘sewa’ that included cleaning pilgrims’s shoes and washing utensils at the community kitchen in the shrine.

He was pardoned and re-admitted into the Sikh fold.

Buta Singh: The former Union home minister earned the Akal Takht’s wrath for his role in Operation Bluestar in 1984. He was ex-communicated from the Sikh community. Ten years later, he sought pardon and was let off after atoning for his “sin”.

Baba Santa Singh:

In March 2001, Santa Singh appeared before the Sikh head priests and apologised. (HT File Photo)

The chief of a Nihang faction who took up the ‘kar sewa’ of the severely damaged Akal Takht building soon after Operation Bluestar. The Sikh clergy disapproved his act and declared him ‘tankhaiya’. In March 2001, Santa Singh appeared before the Sikh head priests and apologised. He was asked to do ‘sewa’ at all five Sikh Takhts and then pardoned.

Jagdev Singh Talwandi: A former president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, he was punished for defying the Akal Takht’s directive on unity in Akali factions. Talwandi atoned for his indiscretion in 1979 by doing ‘sewa’ and was pardoned.

Bikram Singh Majithia: An influential minister in the current Badal government, he sparked off a blasphemy row in May 2014 when he allegedly distorted a Sikh hymn while canvassing for BJP candidate Arun Jaitley in Amritsar during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Majithia appeared before Akal Takht and sought an apology. To repent, he washed utensils and cleaned shoes of pilgrims at Golden Temple. He was pardoned.

Also read | Kejriwal’s ‘sewa’ a sham, blasphemous act: SAD-BJP