Wednesday, January 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SGPC chief ‘excommunicated’
Can’t go against Takht: Bibi Jagir Kaur
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 25 — In a move without precedent in the annals of Sikhism, Giani Puran Singh, Jathedar, Akal Takht, “excommunicated” Bibi Jagir Kaur, President Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee from the Sikh Panth.

The ‘hukumnama’ (edict) by Giani Puran Singh on the letter head of Akal Takht was faxed to various newspapers in Punjab from Guna (Madhya Pradesh) where he had gone to attend a religious function.

The letter says, “Bibi Jagir Kaur has repeatedly violated the directives of Akal Takht”. The ‘hukumnama’ (edict) issued by Giani Puran Singh appealed to the Sikh “sangat” (masses) to sever all social and religious links with Bibi Jagir Kaur and that she not be allowed to speak from any religious stage or gurdwara till she presented herself before Akal Takht. Jathedar Puran Singh has summoned all members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee before Akal Takht on February 2.

The edict reads that “though the undersigned (Giani Puran Singh) had opposed the Nanakshahi calendar in a committee room of SGPC yet Bibi Jagir Kaur presented ‘Siropa’ (robe of honour) to Mr Pal Singh Purewal — a Canada-based Sikh who authored the ‘jantri’ (calendar) and implemented the same”.

Akal Takht stopped implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar on November 4. The edict further reads that the Akal Takht again stopped implementation of the controversial Nanakshahi calendar. But despite its clear directive Bibi Jagir Kaur marked the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh on January 5, on the basis of Nanakshahi calendar while the rest of the Panth observed the day on January 14.

Giani Puran Singh has also banned holding of the meeting of the executive of the SGPC, proposed to be held on January 27 at Chandigarh. However, the SGPC has already postponed the meeting indefinitely without assigning any reason.

According to sources, Giani Puran Singh has pre-empted a reported move by the SGPC to sack him for debarring the eleven-member sub committee set up to decide on the Nanakshahi calendar from functioning. Giani Puran Singh had ‘sacked’ four members of the sub-committee without taking the five Sikh high priests into confidence.

Interestingly the decision to recast the sub-committee was taken at a joint meeting held at Akal Takht secretariat on January 16 presided over by Giani Puran Singh himself. Sikh circles are surprised at the swift developments specially since Giani Puran Singh had been party to the decision to recast the sub-committee.

Sikh circles are also surprised at the drastic step as no Jathedar can (excommunicate any Sikh from the panth without following the set procedure. In this case Giani Puran Singh has not only taken the other Sikh high priests into confidence nor declared Bibi Jagir Kaur tankhaiya as a prelude to ex-communication. The only other such exception was a ‘hukumnama’ issued by Akal Takht against Nirankaris on June 1978 when then Jathedar Giani Sadhu Singh Bhaura directed the Sikh masses to sever all social relations with Nirankaris. They (Nirankaris) too were not given an opportunity to plead their innocence.

Sikh circles feel that the ‘hukumnama’ issued by Giani Puran Singh could be a ‘double-edged weapon’ as the SGPC executive may initiate action against him too.

Reacting to the developments, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, an Akali MLA and confidant of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra said that the ‘hukumnama’ was the direct outcome of the “wrong policies” adopted by the pro-Badal SGPC, which had challenged the supremacy of Akal Takht last year. He said Bhai Ranjit Singh was sacked by the SGPC without following any rule. This resulted in the present ‘Panthic crisis’. Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, spokesman of the Dal Khalsa,

summing up the present stand off between the Akal Takht Jathedar and SGPC said that “two wrongs can not make one right”. He said while the removal of Bhai Ranjit Singh by the SGPC last year was unceremonious the manner in which Bibi Jagir Kaur was being ex-communicated was also ungraceful. Giani Puran Singh should have given her time to explain her conduct before taking such an extreme step. Such a trend must be stopped to safeguard Sikhism, he said.

Ever since the fax was received the media persons have had a hard time trying to confirm the authenticity of the edict, which was faxed from a public call office owned by one Surender Mohan Sharma, Guna (Madhya Pradesh).

When contacted by TNS on the phone, the attendant of the PCO, one Pawan Kumar said that more than twenty fax messages and hundreds of calls had been made to various parts of Punjab “reportedly by Giani Puran Singh”, he said.

Though the edict was signed by Giani Puran Singh alone, yet the sources said the ‘hukumnama’ was issued after the meeting of five Sikhs, including Bhai Raushan Singh, Bhai Suba Singh, Bhai Charn Singh and Bhai Milkha Singh.

This is for the first time that an SGPC chief had been sacked by the Akal Takht.

The sources said the decision of Giani Puran Singh would be an embarrassment for Mr Parkash Singh Badal who was instrumental in installing him as Jathedar.

Eyebrows were raised at the time of the installation as Giani Puran Singh is known to have had proximity with Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. He had also a land dispute with the SGPC at that time.

JALANDHAR (PTI): The SGPC President, Bibi Jagir Kaur, who was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth on Tuesday, said she could never go against the “great institution” of Akal Takht.

“I have never taken a single step against the glory of Akal Takht. I do not know what has prompted such an action from the Jathedar”Back


SGPC meeting today
Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR, Jan 25 — In the wake of the excommunication of Bibi Jagir Kaur by the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Puran Singh, an emergency meeting of the general house of the SGPC, the Dharm Parchar Committee and five Sikh High Priests has been convened here tomorrow.

According to Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary SGPC, the meeting will be attended by Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister and other functionaries of the SGPC and the SAD. Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib, who had boarded a train for Hazoor Sahib, has curtailed his visit and has rushed to Amritsar to attend the meeting.

However, Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Sri Kesgarh Sahib, is in Washington. Giani Mohan Singh, Head Priest, Darbar Sahib, and Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, are likely to attend the meeting.

Talking to TNS, Dr Bachan said Giani Puran Singh’s decision to “excommunicate” Bibi Jagir Kaur “unacceptable” and “unprecedented in the history of Sikhs”.

For excommunicating a Sikh, a procedure was required to be followed. However, Giani Puran Singh, had not done so. It is clear from Dr Bachan’s remarks that the SGPC may challenge the “hukmnama” issued by Giani Puran Singh.

On the other hand, Baba Kashmira Singh, President Gurbani Gurmat Sidhant Parchark Sant Samaj, talking to TNS, justified the action of Giani Puran Singh. He said though the Sant Samaj wanted to solve the Nanakshahi calendar issue amicably, it was “wrong” on the part of Bibi Jagir Kaur to challenge the supremacy of Akal Takht time and again.

He said that Bibi Jagir Kaur had committed a ‘blunder’ by challenging the directive of Akal Takht regarding the calendar issue.

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