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Akal Takht set to excommunicate Langah; SAD in damage-control mode

The jathedar condemned Langah for indulging in an “immoral, disgraceful and blasphemous” act.

punjab Updated: Oct 02, 2017 21:58 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber and Surjit Singh
Gurpreet Singh Nibber and Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Akal Takht,Langah,SGPC
Senior Akali leader Sucha Singh Langah in Chandigarh on Monday.(Sikander Singh/HT)

The Akal Takht, highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, is set to excommunicate Sucha Singh Langah, the now-former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader, from the panth (religion) in light of the rape case registered against him last week. A meeting of the clergy scheduled for October 5 is expected to issue the punishment for Langah, “whose acts have hurt Sikh sentiments”, said Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh on Monday.

A baptised Sikh, Langah was a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), considered the mini-parliament of Sikhs, until he resigned after the case was registered at Gurdaspur on a complaint by a police constable, who said she was being exploited by the former SAD minister over eight years.

A grey past
  • Known to have been a militant once, Sucha Singh Langah was close to Wassan Singh Zafarwal, who remained chief of Khalistan Commando Force. So much so that Wassan’s sister is married to Langah’s brother and, in 2001, Langah managed Wassan’s (a proclaimed offender) entry into India, from Switzerland, during the Akali regime.
  • His father owned three acres of farmland and had four sons, including him. Now, Langah owns a number of properties, grain godowns, and huge land across the border fencing adjoing Pakistani territory in Chamkra Marara village in Gurdaspur. His name was also linked to the since-dismissed superintendent of police Salwinder Singh, who is accused of sexual offences too.
  • After entering the mainstream, Langah was effective in dealing with terror outfits on behalf of the Akali leadership. This led to his upward movement in the party and, in 1997 he was given the ticket to contest from Dhariwal and became minister as a first-time MLA.
  • He is no stranger to cases, as he is already convicted and out on bail in a case of disproportionate assets. Now, however, the rape case is being seen by many as the end of the political road for him.

The woman submitted a video as evidence, which went viral online over the weekend, showing Langah purportedly in a sexual act. In it, he is also seen wearing the kirpan, a ceremonial dagger worn by baptised Sikhs.

“Actions of Langah are against the Sikh tenants and it (Takht) will give suitable punishment (to Langah) for hurting religious sentiments”

Referring to the video, the jathedar condemned Langah for indulging in an “immoral, disgraceful and blasphemous” act. “Actions of Langah are against the Sikh tenants and it (Takht) will give suitable punishment (to Langah) for hurting religious sentiments,” a statement by the jathedar said. Sources in the SGPC told HT that he could be given the toughest punishment, of excommunication.

The alacrity with which the clergy is moving against Langah seems, in fact, part of a political damage-control exercise of the SAD, which controls the SGPC that appoints the jathedras of the three temporal seats in Punjab.

Poll connection

The sex scandal also comes just ahead of the October 11 Lok Sabha bypoll in Gurdaspur , and hectic campaigning on the issue by the ruling Congress in particular has damaged the Akalis, whose ally BJP is seeking to retain the seat. The SAD had made Langah in-charge of Dera Baba Nanak assembly constituency for the bypoll, but former revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia has now replaced him.

The SAD, after maintaining silence for nearly a week, spoke up against him on Monday. “The party is not with him; we disassociate ourselves,” SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema told HT. “I condemn his act. It’s not acceptable for anyone in Akali Dal to indulge in such an act, particularly a leader of his stature. We are very clear. What is wrong is wrong!” However, off the record, some in the Akali Dal said it was a case of “honey trap”, and blamed Langah for “becoming a victim in an act in which he was an equal partner, knowingly”.

Was in contention for SGPC chief

Owing to his seniority, Langah was in the race to become SGPC president when Kirpal Singh Badungar was eventually chosen. Langah was member of the SAD core committee and the district unit president of Gurdaspur.

Langah, who remained a cabinet minister in the SAD-BJP governments of 1997-2002 and 2007-2012, appeared for surrender in a Chandigarh court on Monday, after he was asked by the party to follow the law, but the court told him to surrender in Gurdaspur instead. He remains to be arrested.

First Published: Oct 02, 2017 20:42 IST