Akal Takht summons 44 leaders who sought Sirsa dera support in elections
The Akal Takht on Tuesday summoned 44 politicians who sought the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda support in the recently held Punjab assembly elections. They have been asked to appear before the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs on April 17.
Of the 44 politicians, 29 visited the Sirsa dera, while 15 participated at meetings outside the dera.
On the basis of a report submitted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) panel, 29 politicians from the Akali Dal, 14 from the Congress and one Aam Aadmi Party leader violated the Akal Takht’s 2007 “hukumnama” (edict) which had excommunicated dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
The decision was announced by Akal Takht jathedar Gaini Gurbachan Singh after a four-hour meeting of the Sikh high priests. “They will face action as prescribed in the Sikh maryada,” said the jathedar.
The row erupted after the Dera Sacha Sauda decided to support the Akali Dal in the February 4 assembly elections. The move kicked up a storm when Akali candidates from nine constituencies of Bathinda and Mansa districts attended a meeting organised by the dera’s religious wing at a banquet hall in Bathinda.
The Akali Dal went a step further and announced to facilitate dera “satsangs” in Punjab, in open defiance of the Akal Takht’s 2007 edict that Sikhs must boycott the dera chief.
Following directions of the Akal Takht jathedar, the SGPC on February 6 constituted a three-member probe committee comprising SGPC senior vice-president Baldev Singh Kaimpur, general secretary Amarjit Singh Chawla and executive committee member Gurcharan Singh Garewal. The panel submitted its report on March 6.
The dera head last held a congregation in Punjab in May 2007 at Salabtpura village in Bathinda, where he courted controversy by wearing attire allegedly similar to that of Guru Gobind Singh. Then, the Takht issued a “hukamnama” against the dera head and accused him of blasphemy, besides calling upon Sikhs for his social boycott. This led to violence in different parts of state between Sikhs and dera followers.
In September 2015, the Takht had pardoned Ram Rahim for the May 2007 “blasphemy”. The decision had come in for widespread criticism from Sikh hardliners, who had alleged that it was “politically motivated” by the SAD to secure dera the support for the 2017 assembly polls. Under pressure, the Takht had to reverse its pardon decision.
PROMINENT LEADERS CALLED BY AKAL TAKHT
Akali Dal: Sikander Singh Maluka, Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Jeet Mohinder Sidhu, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Surjit Rakhra
Congress: Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Karan Kaur Brar, Ajit Inder Singh Mofar
Aam Aadmi Party: Narinder Singh Sandha