Tuesday, February 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Jagir Kaur ends ‘ekantvas’
Head Granthi performs ‘ardas’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, Feb 28 — Emerging from the 23-day long “ekantvas” (retreat), Babi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC, who was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth, today gave clear indication to ‘reject’ the hukamnana (edict) issued by Giani Puran Singh, with show of strength and open defiance and deepening the ongoing Panthic crisis in the process.

Expressing deep concern over the “show of strength”, Giani Puran Singh, Jathedar, Akal Takht, said members of the SGPC and representatives of various Sikh institutions who presented siropas (robes of honour) in front of Akal Takht today to Bibi Jagir Kaur had violated the Sikh ‘maryada’. He said Bibi Jagir Kaur was still “excommunicated” as she had not applied to Akal Takht for rejoining the Sikh Panth. He also took a serious note of the ardas performed by Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, to mark the end of “ekantvas” of Bibi Jagir Kaur at Akal Takht. Giani Puran Singh indicated action against all those who violated the ‘maryada’ today.

Giani Bhagwan Singh, however, justified the ardas. He said the hukamnana issued by Giani Puran Singh on January 25 from Guna (Madhya Pradesh) was not as per the Sikh traditions and hence could not be implemented.

The first indication of defying the hukamnama came when Bibi Jagir Kaur reached the Golden Temple with a large number of her supporters, including SGPC members. She paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and Akal Takht amid chanting of “Bole so nihal, sat sri akal”. She also offered prasad at both the holy places.

Giani Puran Singh in his hukamnama had directed the Sikhs to severe all social relations with the SGPC chief. She was also restrained from functioning as the SGPC chief till she rejoined the Sikh panth. However, these directives were violated as Bibi Jagir Kaur not only addressed a press conference in the meeting room of the SGPC complex but also held a series of informal meetings there.

In his ardas, Giani Bhagwan Singh said Bibi Jagir Kaur had paid obeisance after her “ekantvas” and the almighty should give her strength to serve the Sikh panth with dedication.

In the second indication of defying the hukamnama Bibi Jagir Kaur gave a one-page written press statement emphasising need of ‘panch pradhani’ (institution of five beloved ones) to resolve the present crisis.

It is yet to be confirmed whether Bibi Jagir Kaur took Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, into confidence before defying the hukamnama openly. Interestingly, Mr Badal had met Giani Puran Singh at the latter’s residence recently and had assured that Bibi Jagir Kaur would apply to Akal Takht shortly. The political affairs committee (PAC) of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had also desired that Bibi Jagir Kaur should appear at Akal Takht. The executive committee of the SGPC had already undergone ‘tankhah’ (religious punishment) on the similar charges of implementing the Nanakshahi calender.

In a categorical statement, Giani Puran Singh said that the hukamnama once issued could not be withdraw. “I may or may not continue as the Jathedar but the hukamnama once issued by the Jathedar of Akal Takht could not be altered or withdrawn”, he said. He remarked that the Jathedar of Akal Takht was competent to issue hukamnama on his own along with any four baptised Sikhs from any place. The institution of ‘panch pradhani’ was implemented after the formation of the SGPC in 1925, he claimed.

Giani Puran Singh said Mr Badal had given him a word that Bibi Jagir Kaur would apply to Akal Takht for rejoining the Sikh Panth. She had not applied so far, he stressed.

Mr Jasbir Singh Ghuman, general secretary, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) and Mr Harbans Singh Manjpur, executive member, SGPC (Tohra group), also criticised Bibi Jagir Kaur for “violating” the hukamnama. They said instead of making it a show of strength, the SGPC chief should have paid her obeisance as a “humble” Sikh. “If the SGPC chief won’t act upon the hukmnama, who would honour the authority of Akal Takht,” they asked.

Bibi Harjinder Kaur, state president, Sikh Nari Manch, said a hukamnama issued from a PCO could not be justified. She said the Sikh Nari Manch was dedicated to the Sikh “maryada” and Akal Takht. “For me, the Sikh principles are supreme and any hukmnama issued in violation of the Sikh tenets could not be implemented. This is why hundreds of members of the manch have presented siropas to Bibi Jagir Kaur. She is very much part of the Sikh Panth,” she claimed.

Giani Bhagwan Singh said he would prefer to resign if Bibi Jagir Kaur would appear at Akal Takht on the basis of the ‘controversial hukamnama”. “No Sikh could accept the hukamnama issued from a PCO,” he asserted. When asked as to why the SGPC executive had appeared before Akal Takht on the directive of Giani Puran Singh, he said they had come to Akal Takht to make request to the Jathedar that the hukamnama was not valid. However, they were not allowed to speak by Giani Puran Singh, he pointed out.

Prof Suba Singh, president, Sikh Intellectual Forum, Amritsar district, said no Sikh could accept the hukamnama which was not issued from Akal Takht.

On the presentation of siropas in front of Akal Takht by as many as 22 Sikh organisations, Giani Puran Singh said they were “ignorant” of the Sikh “maryada”. “No excommunicated Sikh could be honoured till rejoining in the Sikh Panth,” he said. The Sikh organisations which honoured Bibi Jagir Kaur included the Guru Ram Dass Welfare Manch, Punjab, the Guru Nanak Mishan Parchar Sabha, the Mahanwir Dal Khalsa Gattka Party, the Dashmesh Naujwan Sabha Ranjit Akhara, the Nalua Sewak Dal, the Kalgidhar Mishan Parchar Sabha, the Dashmesh Kirtan Academy, the Guru Arjan Dev Naujwan Sabha, the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, the Bhai Ghanhia Seva Society, the Sri Guru Singh Sabha, the Shiromani Youth Akali Dal (Phagwara circle) and the Teachers Dal.

Interestingly, school children from various SGPC-run schools received Bibi Jagir Kaur outside the Golden Temple. She was profusely garlanded. Bibi Jagir Kaur, who was scheduled to arrive at 10.30 a.m. reached the Golden Temple at 12.45 p.m. Her supporters, including officials of the SGPC from various parts of the state, kept on waiting outside the Golden Temple since morning.

Bibi Jagir Kaur also partook langar in presence of large number of Sikh sangat at Guru Ram Dass Langar Hall. Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary, SGPC, claimed that nearly 80 SGPC members, including executive members, and at least 10 MLAs were with Bibi Jagir Kaur at the time of paying obeisance. He claimed that she could not be considered excommunicated as her prasad and ardas were accepted at Akal Takht and the Golden Temple. She also listened to kirtan at the Golden Temple.

The task force of the SGPC was deployed in and around the Golden Temple and Akal Takht in good strength to meet any eventuality. The district administration had also made elaborate security arrangements outside the SGPC complex.

Baba Mangal Singh Satlani, acting president, Gurbani Gurmat Sidhant Parchark Sant Samaj, and a close confidant of Giani Puran Singh, described the defiance of hukamnama by Bibi Jagir Kaur and the SGPC members and MLAs as “most unfortunate” development in the history of Sikhism. He alleged that it was for the first time that any SGPC chief had openly denigrated maryada of Akal Takht.

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