Thursday, June 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bhindranwale aide is taksal chief
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 18
A former priest of the Golden Temple, Bhai Ram Singh (40), an aide of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, has been appointed 15th Jathedar of Damdami Taksal. A decision to this effect was taken at an emergency meeting in Tressy, USA, presided over by Baba Thakur Singh, Acting Chief of the taksal.

Bhai Ram Singh is nephew of Sant Kartar Singh Khalsa, the 13th Jathedar of Damdami Taksal. He took religious training in Damdami Taksal.

The appointment of Bhai Ram Singh as Jathedar was necessitated when the Jathedar of Akal Takht and the SGPC made a formal announcement on June 6 that Sant Bhindranwale had been martyred in Operation Bluestar. Earlier, Baba Thakur Singh and a section of Damdami Taksal had spread word that Sant Bhindranwale had escaped in Operation Bluestar and would emerge at an appropriate time.

Bibi Balwinder Kaur, wife of Bhai Ram Singh, while talking to TNS confirmed that the appointment had been made. She said Bhai Ram Singh himself had informed the family that he was presented the ‘dastar’ (turban) by Baba Thakur Singh. The function to mark his installation would be held at Chowk Mehta, headquarters of Damdami Taksal.

Bhai Manjit Singh, senior Akali leader and cousin of Bhai Ram Singh, said that with his appointment as Jathedar of Damdami Taksal, the controversy regarding the death of Sant Bhindranwale stood resolved. Bhai Manjit Singh was present at the Golden Temple when the Jathedar of Akal Takht had declared that Sant Bhindranwale was ‘martyred’ in the Operation Bluestar.

Mr Harminder Singh Gill, president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, said the stand of the federation stood vindicated with the appointment of Bhai Ram Singh who replaces Sant Bhindranwale after 19 years of his death.

Unlike Sant Bhindranwale, Bhai Ram Singh is considered a moderate religious leader. He is famous for his religious discourses and visits to a number of countries for the propagation of the faith. He is the grandson of the late Jathedar Jhanda Singh, the then district jathedar of Kasur (now in Pakistan) who had courted arrest in various ‘morchas’ (agitations) launched before Independence. His father, Jathedar Jagtar Singh, too was a senior Akali leader.

Bhai Satbir Singh, senior functionary of Damdami Taksal, told TNS that he had received a call from the USA that Bhai Ram Singh has been appointed Jathedar of the taksal by Baba Thakur Singh. He said the taksal would accept any decision taken by Baba Thakur Singh. In a recorded speech, Sant Bhindranwale had appealed to the Sikh masses to accept any decision of Baba Thakur Singh after his death.

Earlier, Bhai Ram Singh had resigned as priest of the Golden Temple in protest when he was transferred to Jind in Haryana by the SGPC. The SGPC took action against Bhai Ram Singh as he had refused to adhere to the ‘dress code’ specified for the Sikh high priests. Despite warnings, Bhai Ram Singh continued to wear the dress worn by the students of Damdami Taksal.

Meanwhile, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former SGPC chief, has hailed the appointment of Bhai Ram Singh.

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