Tuesday, January 25, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Will SGPC sack Jathedar?
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 24 — The forthcoming meeting of the Executive Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee on January 27 at Chandigarh is likely to discuss the ‘crisis’ in Panthic circles after the unilateral announcement of Giani Puran Singh restraining the 11-member committee set up to decide the controversial Nanakshahi calendar.

Giani Puran Singh, Akal Takht Jathedar had not taken other Sikh high priests, Prof Manjit Singh, Giani Bhagwan Singh, Giani Kewal Singh and Giani Mohan Singh into confidence before making the announcement removing four members of the panel and restraining it.

Sikh circles feel that Giani Puran Singh could not make a unilateral announcement on a decision taken by all the five Sikh high priests, the SGPC executive and office-bearers of the Dharm Parchar Committee held at Akal Takht Secretariat on January 16.

The meeting had decided to reconstitute the seven-member sub-committee on the Nanakshahi calendar and ‘appointed’ Dr Kharak Singh as convener of the sub-committee. Interestingly the meeting was presided over by Giani Puran Singh himself.

The written press release, issued by Giani Puran Singh yesterday had also included the name of Baba Mangal Singh Satlani, acting president Gurmat Gurbani Sant Samaj in the seven-member committee though he was dropped in the meeting of January 16.

Sikh circles are of the view that Giani Puran Singh had violated the “Sikh maryada” in ignoring the other Sikh high priests while making the unilateral announcement.

They say action could be taken against Giani Puran Singh, including his suspension.

However, the SGPC Executive is unlikely to take such drastic action in the near future as Giani Puran Singh was unanimously appointed by the pro-Badal SGPC Executive which had suspended Bhai Ranjit Singh last year.

Giani Puran Singh had then virtually ‘obliged’ the pro-Badal camp by accepting the post after Giani Mohan Singh, Head Priest, Golden Temple refused the assignment. Thus such a decision would attract criticism from the Sikh masses.

Bhai Ranjit Singh and the leadership of Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal has never accepted Giani Puran Singh as Jathedar claiming he is a ‘Sarkari” Jathedar.

Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar Akal Takht, has also criticised Giani Puran Singh for having ‘failed’ to evolve a consensus on the Nanakshahi calendar and said his latest announcement was in gross violation of the traditions of Sikhism.

Meanwhile, a section of the influential Sikhs have launched a campaign to remove Giani Puran Singh and begun lobbying for installing Giani Baldev Singh, Vice-President, International Akhad Kirtani Jatha. However, sources said that any decision regarding the fate of the Jathedar would be taken only after the byelection of Nawanshahr for obvious reasons.

They said Giani Puran Singh had never missed any opportunity to checkmate Bibi Jagir Kaur, SGPC chief to establish his supremacy.

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