Akal Takht can’t ‘ban’ Nanak Shah Fakir, can take action against Sikka

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, April 11: Having exposed himself to ridicule yet again, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh has summoned meeting of the sanctified five high priests on April 12 on the issue of controversial film Nanak Shah Fakir that has been given green signal by the Supreme Court.

This highest seat of the Sikhs for prayer and politics yesterday ‘banned’ this film produced by Harinder Singh Sikka, a Sikh himself after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee cleared it on March 13 last. The SGPC letter dated March 19 went a step ahead giving permission to the producer to display banners of the film at suitable places in the gurdwaras with instructions to the managers concerned to facilitate the same.

It was following objections raised by various other Sikh organisations that the clearance was reversed and Akal Takht issued the ban order. Earlier, the SGPC on February 24, 2016 had said in  communication  to the film producer that “ we have no objection in granting you the permission for the release of the film Nanak Shah Fakir”.

The Akal Takht commands questionable authority rooted in religio-political-moralistic dynamics of the Sikhs to take actions in such cases. However, such action can be taken only against the Sikhs. Akal Takht Jathedar over-reached while announcing ‘ban’ on the movie.

The Akal Takht can take action against Sikka only because of being a Sikh in case he goes ahead and releases the movie violating the ‘ban’ imposed by this institution. The extreme action is ex-communication from the Sikh religion.

Sikh organisations have been protesting for the last few days with the outfits like Dal Khalsa warning  the producer against its release.

However, the situation calls for deeper probe over this entire controversy beginning 2015 when the Punjab government suspended its screening on April 15 for two months following protests. The basic issue is that the role of the family members of Guru Nanak has been performed by actors that this religion prohibits. There are similar other objections like using human voice for Guru Nanak whose image has been used through animation techniques. The issue here is of Sikh sensibilities.

The probe should include the names of the Sikh leaders who were shown the film by the producer in Delhi and other places to pin point as to who is behind the entire controversy that has exposed the highest Sikh institutions to mockery.

The issue here now is not just the film but  the functioning of Akal Takht and the SGPC itself as this is not for the first time that time that these institutions have been reduced to laughing stock.

A section of the Sikhs is used to blaming  the RSS  for everything that goes wrong with the working of these institutions rather than looking inward for the reasons. Here is the test case.

The office of the Jathedar of Akal Takht has been exposed to irrelevance and Giani Gurbachan Singh has lost not only just his credibility but also legitimacy. This downfall started with pardon granted to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim to cater to political interests of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

The present controversy is yet another low characterising the functioning of the Sikh institutions.

This should be taken up as a wake-up call to undertake correctives to minimise political interference to restore some semblance of credibility. It is the time for drastic action and complete overhaul.


Jagtar Singh


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