Dera poll support row: Takht awards ‘punishment’ to 39 leaders for violating edict
The Akal Takht on Monday handed out punishment to 39 Sikh political leaders of SAD, Congress and AAP for violating Takht’s ‘hukumnama’ (edict) by seeking political support from the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda in the recently held Punjab assembly elections.
Of the 44 leaders summoned by the Sikh high priests, four, including Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Congress), Arjun Singh (Congress), Ajaib Singh Bhatti (Congress) and Janmeja Singh Sekhon (SAD), failed to turn up. SAD leader Manpreet Singh Ayaali was let off.
The Takht classified the leaders into two categories — ‘sabat soorat’ (those who don’t trim their hair) Sikhs and ‘patits’ (those who seldom observe the Khalsa code of conduct).
Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said the 21 ‘sabat soorat’ leaders were made to stand on the ground floor of the Takht and awarded ‘tankhah’.
They were told to clean the passage leading to the Golden Temple from Gurdwara Saragarhi Sahib for a day. On another day, they would clean up the whole parikrama of the Golden Temple. They would also perform ‘sewa’ at the Langar Hall and ‘joda’ (cleaning shoes of devotees) for two hours each.
After completing this sewa, they would have to listen to kirtan at the Golden Temple for one hour, offer Rs 5,100 to the ‘golak’ and Rs 501 ‘karah parshad’ for atonement.
Among those who were handed out this punishment were Sikander Maluka, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Mantar Singh Brar, Surjit Rakhra, Jeetmohinder Sidhu and others.
The 18 ‘patit’ leaders were asked to perform sewa for 10 days (1 hour every day) at the gurdwaras located in the vicinity of their constituencies. Among the ‘patit’ leaders, 10 were from the Congress, 7 from the SAD while one was from the AAP. Prominent among them were Amarinder Raja Warring, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Kewal Singh, Karan Kaur and others.
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 Sirsa dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Following directions of the Akal Takht jathedar, the SGPC on February 6 constituted a three-member probe committee that submitted its report on March 6.
The SGPC report said 29 politicians from the Akali Dal, 14 from the Congress and one AAP leader had violated the “hukumnama” following which they were told to appear before the Akal Takht.