Choice with Sikhs to pick from 3 messages in name of Akal Takht on Bandi Chhod Divas

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, November 8: Democratic ethos is essence of Sikh philosophy but this spirit seems to have been either taken to the extreme or distorted. Sikhs don’t need any outsider to damage them, their doctrine and the institutions.

This Bandi Chhod Divas witnessed mockery being made of Akal Takht that is known as the supreme temporal institution of the community, in practice the supreme institution for prayer and politics that otherwise symbolises trans-border sovereignty of the Sikh doctrine. This is an institution that is known for its uniqueness and evolving democratic ethos.

As has been the tradition for years, the Akal Takht chief delivers customary message to the Sikhs on every Bandi Chhod Divas that coincides with Diwali and this year was no exception.

However, this year, the Sikhs had a wider choice.

Three jathedars delivered three messages-one from Tihar Jail, second from Bargari and the third from the Golden Temple complex. This amounts to making mockery of the institution itself.

This institution has parallel jathedars since Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba on November 10, 2015 that was then culmination of protests against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib, police firing on Sikh protesters at Behbal killing two persons and pardon secured for Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh.

Jagtar Singh Hawara, in jail in the case of assassination of then chief minister Beant Singh, was appointed Akal Takht chief at Chabba gathering  and in his absence, Dhian Singh Mand was nominated officiating Jathedar. The official Akal Takht Jaethedar Giani Gurbachan Singh  lost legitimacy as he ended up as a puppet in the hands of then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to grant pardon to Dera Sacha Sauda chief.

All three delivered their messages. Two of them on the same side could have coordinated as even last year, two messages had been delivered.

Giani Gurbachan Singh has been replaced by Giani Harpreet Singh as the officiating Akal Takht Jathedar.

The situation has been summed up by Dal Khalsa political general secretary Kanwarpal Singh, “Three different messages amount to mocking at the community. The role of the Akal Takht Jathedar is to unite the Sikhs, not to divide the community. What has happened is to the contrary”.

Hawara talked of recently constituted World Sikh Parliament providing lead to the Sikh community. This is ridiculous. This is an organisation about which nothing is known in Punjab, the state that has been known as the land of the Sikhs in history. He has also taken the credit for the creation of this body. These people should start functioning in real world, not in their own make-believe world.

It seems these people are alienated from ground realities. The Sikhs who  have settled overseas are frozen in time, living in another era so far as situation in Punjab is concerned.

Mand mainly targeted Badals as the “enemy from within”. Badals are definitely guilty of committing unpardonable sin of securing pardon for Dera chief by misusing Akal Takht. He should have just focussed on the issues rather than any person.

Delivering such message is different from giving a speech from the stage. The message is supposed to have its own sanctity. The person holding the office of Akal Takht chief is supposed to rise above such thinking. Only such an approach would restore some credibility of this institution.

Giani Harpreet Singh  talked within the framework of the Akali politics, attacking mainly the Congress  and fell too low by mentioning even distortions in history book for class XII of Punjab School Education Board that has been withdrawn by the Punjab government. He should have known that Prof Kirpal Singh, who heads the committee that is writing this book (Only five chapters had been released) had been honoured as National Professor of Sikhism in 2014 from the seat that he now heads.

He should have taken care to remove impression of successive Akal Takht jathedars functioning as puppets in the hands of Badals but he has only  reinforced that perception.

All this amounts to further denigration of what has been left of the institution of Akal Takht.

Jagtar Singh


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