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Selling of Birs in Amritsar
Brothers detained in Akal Takht room
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 5
In a bizarre incident, agitated activists of the Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Committee picked up two brothers from the shop of famous publishers Jeewan Singh Chattar Singh and Sons, near Golden Temple, and blackened their faces in full public view. They later dragged them to a room of the Akal Takht secretariat here this evening.

However, Baljit Singh and Prabhjit Singh were freed from the illegal detention in the Akal Takht room on the intervention of Giani Gurbachan Singh, head granthi of the Golden Temple, and senior police officers. The Jathedar of Akal Takht was reportedly on duty when the incident occurred.

The brothers are accused of selling 50 “birs” of Guru Granth Sahib to a Delhi-based Sikh couple. The activists of the committee followed the vehicle of the couple Surinder Singh and his wife up to Beas. They intercepted them and compelled them to return to Amritsar. The agitating Sikh activists alleged that the birs were stacked in the Delhi couple’s vehicle and they were wearing shoes. It is alleged that the couple wanted to sell the birs at a high price. It is alleged that both brothers were first beaten up in full public view and then in the room of Akal Takht. The heavy police force that reached the incident site could not intervene because of the surcharged religious sentiments.

A senior SGPC member and convener of the Akal Purkh Ki Fauj, Jaswinder Singh Advocate, justified the action of the committee. He said they won’t allow the police to take action against the Sikh activists. He said the matter had been brought to the notice of SGPC chief Jathedar Avtar Singh. The “direct action” was taken by the committee under the leadership of Amrik Singh of the Damdami Taksal.

SSP KVP Singh, who himself went to the SGPC office to defuse the situation, told The Tribune that the “matter would be resolved”. He said nobody had been arrested so far. He said the publishers had hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs by selling the birs against ‘maryada’, but the committee should not have taken law into its hand. Both brothers were taken to police station. “They have not been arrested”, he clarified.

Harbhajan Singh, father of both victims, alleged that the police stood a mute spectator when his sons were in illegal custody. “This is no Sikhism”, he said.

It may be mentioned here that on May 3, 2001, the five Sikh high priests had summoned Bhai Jeewan Singh and Chattar Singh and sons at Akal Takht on May 14 for publishing the holy Guru Granth Sahib in violation of the hukamnama (edict).

The hukamnama issued by the then Jathedar Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh, on May 9, 1998, had directed that the SGPC had the sole right to print the ‘birs’ of holy Guru Granth Sahib as per the Sikh maryada in order to prevent “blasphemous” acts of private publishers.

However, despite repeated warnings, Bhai Jeewan Singh and Chattar Singh continued to violate the directives of Akal Takht and for this they were also declared ‘tankhayia’. The publishers had evaded their appearance at Akal Takht on one pretext or the other.

Again, on April 22 last year, the SGPC had directed the oldest publishers of Amritsar, Jeewan Singh Chattar Singh and Sons, and other publishers to stop the publication of Guru Granth Sahib as per the directives of Akal Takht eight years ago.

The SGPC had warned that a CD, which was in its possession, showed a publisher selling Guru Granth Sahib to a Muslim seer even though Akal Takht had banned performing “path” of Guru Granth Sahib at “samadhis”.

The “malpractice” of the publisher was also highlighted through a sting operation. The publisher was shown accusing the SGPC of having failed to supply good quality “birs” as per the demand of the Sikh “sangat”. 

 

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