Calcutta cremated, senior SAD leaders skip ceremony
SGPC president Longowal was also conspicuous by his absence at the last ritespunjab Updated: Jan 18, 2018 21:46 IST
Veteran Akali leader and former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta was cremated here on Thursday with state and Panthic honours.
Even as senior representatives of other political parties, including the ruling Congress, attended the last rites of the Akali leader, top leadership of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal skipped the ceremony.
Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh performed ardas (prayer) during the ceremony. Punjab Police personnel also gave state honours to Calcutta, who served as state higher education minister from 1998 to 1999.
Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, local MP Gurjit Singh Aujla and MLA from Amritsar (central) OP Soni were prominent Congress leaders present on the occasion, former health minister Luxmi Kanta Chawla represented the BJP.
However, no one from the SAD high command came to attend the last rites. In their absence, local Akali leaders, including Gurpartap Singh Tikka and former MP Rajmohinder Singh Majitha, represented the party on the occasion.
Loyalist of former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, though Calcutta was national general secretary of the SAD, he distanced from the party in the last years of his life owing to differences with the Badal family.
He was known as brain behind Akali politics, but had been staunch critic of Badals and their authority on Sikh institutions.
Meanwhile, SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh, members Bhai Ram Singh and Rajinder Singh Mehta were present on the occasion. Besides, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Kuljit Singh and advocate Jaswinder Singh also paid tributes to the departed leader.
As Calcutta was popular among Sikh hardliners, various representatives of radical groups, including Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh and Simranjit Singh Mann-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader Kushaldeep Singh Mann were also seen.
Deputy commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha and Commissioner of Police SS Srivastava also attended the ceremony.