|Thursday, January 27, 2000,
Sikh scholars slam edict against
SAD appeals for restraint on
Step injurious to Panth, says
Mann sees BJP, RSS hand
Report on Dhakki Sahib Gurdwara
JALANDHAR, Jan 26 (PTI) Several Sikh religious leaders and thinkers have severely criticised Akal Takht Jathedar Puran Singh's action of issuing a 'hukumnama' ex-communicating SGPC President Jagir Kaur from the Sikh Panth and said there was no precedent for such edicts being issued.
Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, told PTI there was no precedent of hukumnamas being issued from a place away from the Akal Takht.
Asked about the validity of Puran Singh's edict issued in Guna (Madhya Pradesh) yesterday, he said, "We are discussing the matter and will let you know soon."
The Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, said the hukumnamas of Akal Takht "can only be issued from the Takht and not from a distant city."
"The Jathedar of the top temporal authority is like the Speaker of an Assembly. As far as his functioning is concerned, he can only issue an edict along with other high priests and cannot take action on his sole authority," Dr Ahluwalia said.
His views were echoed by Mr Harbhajan Singh, Principal of Sikh Missionary College a leading seminary of the Panth, who said the edict can only be issued by a collective of five high priests.
"Sikhism only recognises the individual as Sikh and sangat as the collective. The Akal Takht Jathedar can only be the spokesman of the high priests," he said, adding the edict had lowered the dignity of the temporal seat.
Well-known litterateur and Sikh scholar Mahip Singh said the due process for issuing such an edict must involve summoning of the accused, hearing him out, and only then issuing the hukumnama after consultations among the five high priests.
Asked if the edict against the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief has harmed the Takht, he said: "The glory of Akal Takht is being lowered for more than a decade by many people, including Puran Singh's predecessor Ranjit Singh and politicians of all hues."
Dr Ahluwalia, who is also president of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation and author of an earlier draft of the Sikh Gurdwara Bill, said the latest controversy was the culmination of an avoidable feud over the Nanakshahi calendar.
"The best way out is that the Jathedar (Puran Singh) should withdraw the edict and the issue of the calendar should be put in cold freeze like the Gurdwara Act," he said.
Sikhs have been using the Bikrami calendar for centuries. A one-year moratorium on implementation of the new almanac would help in creating a proper atmosphere for clearing the controversy, he added.
Noted Sikh historian Dr Kirpal Singh, who was a member of both the committees on parallel calendar backed by Jagir Kaur and Puran Singh, respectively, termed the ex-communication of the SGPC chief as a "sad development."
"The institution of Akal Takht is meant to preserve the unity of the Sikh Panth and not to divide it," he added.
Meanwhile, both factions of the Sant Samaj, led by Sarabjot Singh Bedi and Kashmira Singh, known to be the main opponents of the Nanakshahi calendar, welcomed the edict issued by Jathedar Puran Singh.
Bedi said the edict could not be seen in isolation as it was the result of actions of Bibi Jagir Kaur, who they claimed had defied the authority of the Akal Takht.
Conceding that the
action of issuance of edict from a place distant from the
Takht was without any precedent, Bedi said the powers,
mode of issuing a hukumnama and the procedure for
appointment of the Akal Takht Jathedar "need to be
CHANDIGARH, Jan 26 (PTI) The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab tonight appealed to Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Puran Singh, high priests and the SGPC to refrain from issuing any statement on the Nanakshahi calendar issue and urged them to find an amicable solution to it.
The Dal "appeals in all humility and earnestness" to the Akal Takht Jathedar, other "Singh sahibans (high priests)" as well as the SGPC to refrain from issuing any statement on the issue, a statement adopted at a meeting of the party's political affairs committee (PAC) here said.
The meeting, presided over by Punjab Chief Minister and party president Parkash Singh Badal, felt that the "extremely sensitive issue" should be resolved through "a process of mutual understanding, consensus and a genuine meeting of minds," a Dal spokesman said, adding 11 of the 12 PAC members were present at the meeting.
The meeting was held a
day after Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Puran Singh
ex-communicated SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, accusing her
of defying the authority of the top temporal seat on the
MOGA, Jan 26 (PTI) The All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) today termed as ''unfortunate'' and ''hasty'' the decision of Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Puran Singh to excommunicate Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Bibi Jagir Kaur.
''It will certainly cause damage to the Panth at such a critical juncture'', AISSF president Karnail Singh said in a statement here today.
He said that Akal Takht Jathedar should have taken into confidence all the five head priests of the takhts before taking such an important decision.
JALANDHAR, Jan 26 (PTI) Akali Dal (Amritsar) president and Lok Sabha MP Simranjit Singh Mann today said Akal Takht Jathedar Puran Singh was under the influence of the BJP and RSS, but remained non-committal on the validity of the cleric's hukumnama excommunicating SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, saying he would have to consult intellectuals and experts on the subject.
"The latest developments in the Panth show that the BJP and RSS interference in the religious affairs of the community has increased, but Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was weak and is yielding to them all the time," Mr Mann told reporters here, adding the Nanakshahi calendar must be implemented.
He said the short-term solution to the problems and challenges facing the Sikh community lay in the removal of Badal from chief-ministership.
Asked about the validity
of the hukumnama issued without consultation with other
Sikh high priests and without giving Jagir Kaur any
opportunity to explain her side, Mr Mann said, "we
have yet to ascertain many things. We are in the realm of
a lot of uncertainties. It would be amateurish to comment
LUDHIANA, Jan 26 (PTI) The committee set up by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to sort out all matters arising out of the Tapovan Dhakki sahib Maqsoodran (in Ludhiana district) dispute has submitted its report.
This was revealed here today by Sarvjot Singh Bedi, President, Gurmat Sudhar Parchark Sant Samaj, who was also convenor of the committee.
The dispute, which mainly relates to the land area under the occupation of the Tapovan, suddenly took an explosive turn last year on May 8 when the two parties laying claim to the land had a major clash, resulting in injuries to several persons.
Several followers of Darshan Singh, chief of the Tapovan, were arrested under various sections of the IPC.
Darshan Singh and 80 others are still in jail. In the last week of November 1999 a mob of anti-Baba villages allegedly attacked the Tapovan, damaged its property and set fire to the library.
Majority of those still in the jail are these rioters who had allegedly attacked the Tapovan.
The anti-Badal factions, led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Bhai Ranjit Singh, took this as an opportunity to malign the Chief Minister, who on Jan 15 visited the spot and formed the committee to solve the dispute.
According to Mr Sarvjot Singh Bedi, convenor of the committee, it has been recommended that all criminal cases against both the parties should be withdrawn and persons concerned released from jail within seven days, beginning today.
All documents pertaining to the claim on land should be submitted by Feb 20, 2000, so that after verification from the revenue records,r espective rights of parties could be determined.
The committee has also suggested that the ashes of the Sikh holy books destroyed in the fire be immersed in the river near Goindwal.
The decision, he said, was unanimous and had been arrived at after both the parties, i.e. Darshan Singh and residents of Maqsoodran, had given a written under taking that they would abide by the decision of the committee.
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