Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has made it clear that under no circumstances chief minister Parkash Singh Badal will be stripped of the title of ‘Panth Rattan Fakhar-e-Qaum’ as the honour was bestowed on him by the highest temporal seat of Sikhism for his “services rendered to the Sikh quam”.
The jathedar made it clear to the entire 'qaum' (community) in Amritsar on Wednesday following a consideration to a memorandum submitted to him on August 24 by supporters of Surat Singh Khalsa, who has been on a hunger strike since January demanding the release of Sikh detainees. The memo was submitted on behalf of the Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa Sangarsh Committee.
In the memo, the committee had described Badal as a “dushman of the Sikh quam (enemy of the Sikh community)”, while holding him responsible for the 'degradation of Sikh values".
The memorandum claimed that as a chief minister, Badal has taken no worthwhile steps to secure the release of Sikh detainees, who are lodged behind bars since long and for whose release Khalsa had gone on a hunger strike.
The memo also held him responsible for the rise in the number of drug addiction cases in Punjab as he failed to take stern measures to check drug smuggling into the state.
The committee has set August 30 as the deadline for the jathedar to withdraw the honour, stating if he failed, the matter would be put before the entire Sikh 'panth'.
Honour bestowed by all five takhts
Rejecting the demand of Khalsa’s supporters, the jathedar in a statement pointed out that the decision to bestow the honour on Badal was taken by all the five Sikh Takhts — Akal Takht, Takht Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib, Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo, Takht Hazoor Sahib at Nanded in Maharashtra and Takht Patna Sahib in Patna.
"It was not an individual decision taken only by the Akal Takht. It was a unanimous decision taken by jathedars or representatives of all the five Takhts. Hence, I alone, or rather the Akal Takht alone, cannot unilaterally withdraw the honour. The matter concerns all the five Takhts,” stated Giani Gurbachan Singh, while referring to the meeting of the five Sikh high priests in 2011, which took the decision to honour the chief minister with the prestigious honour or title.
The jathedar, however, made it clear that the Akal Takht was committed to secure the release of all Sikh detainees for whom Khalsa was observing the hunger strike.