Pardon to Gurmeet Ram Rahim continues to put takht, SGPC in a spot
Even as Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh later revoked the pardon after stiff opposition from the Sikh masses, the row refuses to die down, particularly now when the dera head has been sentenced to 20 years in jail in a rape case.Updated: Sep 06, 2017 19:25 IST
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has landed in a fix as various Sikh segments have started raising the demand that the gurdwara body withdraw its “resolution” of 2015 to endorse the move of the clergy to pardon Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for his act of imitating Gur Gobind Singh in 2007.
Even as Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh later revoked the pardon after stiff opposition from the Sikh masses, the row refuses to die down, particularly now when the dera head has been sentenced to 20 years in jail in a rape case.
It must, however, be recalled that the SGPC’s general house was technically suspended at the time as the Supreme Court was hearing the case of right of vote for Sehajdhari Sikhs. Yet, the then SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar called a meeting at its headquarters, Teja Singh Samundri Hall, on September 29, 2015, to justify the Akal Takht’s move and counter the opposition by Sikh hardliners. Makkar read out the resolution and the majority of the members supported it raising their hands. Some SGPC members opposed the move and some skipped the meeting.
After the CBI’s special court convicted the dera head in the 15-year-old rape case last month, an SGPC member from Dera Baba Nanak, Amrik Singh, said his conviction has “maligned the image of Sikh temporal seats as well as the SGPC, the sitting authorities which spared the rape convict”.
He told HT on Wednesday: “Due to the move, the sangat (Sikh masses) started hating SGPC members. The incumbent office-bearers of the body should revoke the resolution, to reinstate its respect in the community.” He has also written to SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar.
When contacted, Badungar said his schedule was busy for the past few days and he could not read the letter. “I will go to my office on September 9 and consider this matter,” he said.
On the other hand, former Akal Takht Panj Pyaras — five beloved ones of the Guru — who were sacked for summoning heads of the five Sikh temporal seats, including the Akal Takht jathedar, over the pardon issue, also raised this demand.
“This is an irony that the SGPC is still in a deep slumber and not revoked the resolution justifying the pardon,” said the five — Bhai Major Singh, Bhai Satnam Singh Khanda, Bhai Mangal Singh, Bhai Tarlok Singh and Bhai Satnam Singh — in a joint statement on Wednesday. They also appealed to the community to press the SGPC to withdraw the resolution.
Meanwhile, SGPC general secretary Amarjit Singh Chawla said, “As the decision was taken by the SGPC members, I cannot alone pass any comment on the issue. Such a decision can only be rethought collectively.”
Notably, before the jathedar revoked the pardon, the SGPC had also got advertisements published in various newspapers to justify the move. SGPC member claimed that as many as Rs 95 lakh were spent on the advertisements, though the figure could not be verified. Another Sikh activist, Baldev Singh Sirsa, has sought to get the details through the Right to Information.
First Published: Sep 06, 2017 19:25 IST