Sunday, May 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sikh clergy discusses Badal’s letter to Akal Takht
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 24
The marathon meeting of the Sikh clergy held at the Akal Takht secretariat here today discussed the one-page letter of Mr Parkash Singh Badal who has reiterated his stand that he has not indulged in any religious misconduct. In his letter, Mr Badal has feigned ignorance of violation of any edict issued from Akal Takht.

The meeting, which lasted for more than four hours, felt that apart from Mr Badal, certain Sikh high priests, SGPC members and Akali leaders too were guilty of violating the edict issued by Bhai Ranjit Singh, the then Jathedar of Akal Takht on December 31, 1998, directing the warring Akali leaders to maintain truce till the celebrations of the Khalsa Panth (April 15, 1999) anniversary.

The Sikh clergy also took serious note of the action of Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar of Patna Sahib, declaring Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, president of the Patna Sahib Committee as ‘tankhaiya’. Sources close to the Sikh high priests disclosed that the meeting of the Advisory Board of Akal Takht were likely to meet in Teja Singh Samundri Hall on May 30 to discuss the matter. It is learnt that an explanation by Giani Iqbal Singh could be sought. If he (Giani Iqbal Singh) defied the directive, he could be summoned at Akal Takht.

The letter of Mr Badal would be discussed at length in the forthcoming meeting of Sikh clergy on May 26. The Sikh high priests felt that the matter (letter of Mr Badal) being a significant one, needed a thorough study.

The Akal Takht secretariat supplied reports and press clippings showing violation of the edict issued by the then Jathedar Akal Takht on December 31, 1998. The edict had directed the leaders of all warring Akali factions not to harm anybody till the celebrations of the Khalsa Panth. However, the record supplied by Akal Takht revealed that Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedars of Kesgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib, respectively, had opposed the edict on January 2, 1999, by stating instead of interfering in political affairs, there was a need to bring about rapprochement among the Sikh high priests.

In a separate statement, Baba Kashmira Singh, Baba Kundan Singh, Baba Virsa Singh and some other members of the Sant Samaj had also opposed the edict issued by Bhai Ranjit Singh by issuing a statement on January 5.

As many as 51 lawyers of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had appealed to Bhai Ranjit Singh on January 6 to review the ‘hukamnama’. So much so, 10 Executive Committee members of the SGPC had faxed an appeal from the Chief Ministers house on January 6 which sought the resignation of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra as SGPC chief. On January 8, 1999, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mr Ranbir Singh, confidants of Mr Tohra had released a list of 92 members to the press at Chandigarh claiming their support. To counter this, the Badal Group released a list of 140 SGPC members on January 10, 1999, claiming to back me Badal.

Drawing another point of violation of the edict, the note prepared by Akal Takht secretariat reads that instead of maintaining truce, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, a confidant of Mr Tohra was expelled from the primary membership of the Akali Dal on January 21, 1999. The then Jathedar Akal Takht sought explanation from 131 SGPC members on January 25, 1999. The Jathedar directed Mr Barjinder Singh Hamdard, Managing Editor, Ajit and Prof Manjit Singh, the then Jathedar Kesgarh Sahib on January 25, 1999. In the coming days, Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode served an ultimatum on Mr Badal (February 2, 1999). The SGPC declared holidays from February 6 to February 10 in its offices. Then 10 SGPC members moved an application before the Sikh gurdwara judicial commission.

In gross violation of the edict, Mr Tohra was removed as SGPC chief while Bhai Ranjit Singh was placed under suspension as Jathedar Akal Takht.


Text of Badal’s letter

Waheguru ji ka khalsa, waheguru ji ki fateh
Like any other dedicated Sikh, it has been my eternal wish to strive to strengthen the atmosphere of goodwill, faith and affection in the Sikh community. I have always dedicated my entire selfless public life for the ‘chardi kala’ (glory and high spirit of the Khalsa Panth). The exalted, spiritual and esteemed spirit of Akal Takht has been ingrained in every cell of my body and soul. Wittingly or unwittingly, I never even dreamt of denigrating the highest temporal authority of the community — Akal Takht. I have never indulged in religious misconduct. Even then, if any ‘Nanak leva’ Sikh has any misconception that I have committed any misconduct, I always bow before Akal Takht as a devout Sikh.

Guru Panth da das
Parkash Singh Badal


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