Who pressured SGPC panel to give no-objection certificate to Nanak Shah Fakir movie?
Chandigarh, April 14: It has finally come out that the panel set up by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee was pressured to issue no-objection certificate to the controversial film Nanak Shah Fakir even before its completion. The film has kicked up a storm in the Sikh religio-political matrix as it is being perceived to be a covert attack on the basic postulates by way of dragging the Sikhs towards idolatry.
The revelation has been made by none else but Rajinder Singh Mehta who was on both the committees set up by the SGPC to review the film.
The platform where he was provoked into coming out with the facts was Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj where 40th anniversary of the killing of the thirteen Sikhs in the Sikh Nirankari clash at Amritsar on April 13, 1978 was observed. The political violence beginning 1980’s in Punjab is traced to this tragedy. The function was organised by the Damdami Taksal which subsequently constructed a gurdwara at the site as memorial. The author of the protest was Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
Mehta was member of the executive committee of the SGPC at that time. The general house of the SGPC was non-functional as the case was in the Supreme Court .
He traced the entire sequence from the stage. The issue cropped up first in 2015 as Sikh organisations raised objections to the film. Its producer Harinder Singh Sikka promised to make amends provided the objections were pinpointed. It was at this stage that Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs for prayer and politics, came into the picture. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh directed the SGPC to take appropriate action that led to the setting up of a 3-member committee. Besides Mehta, the other members included Raghujit Singh Virk and SGPC secretary Dr Roop Singh.
The committee reached Delhi to have a preview. SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar, who had reached Delhi on return from Mumbai, also accompanied them to Sikka’s house. The committee was categoric that the film could not be cleared. The committee returned to Amritsar.
It was at this point of time that ‘some people’ started putting pressure on the committee to give a green signal. Mehta did not disclose the identity of these people. “Sifarshan painian shuru ho gayeean”, he said.
Under pressure, the SGPC panel was told to review the film again. The same objections were pointed out.
Now the situation changed and another action started. The committee was reconstituted by replacing Dr Roop Singh with SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh, an appointee of Akali Dal president and then deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
This committee again went to Delhi. Sikka played the film on his laptop. The panel repeated almost the same objections. According to Mehta, Sikka promised to follow the guidelines. However, at the same time, he requested the committee to issue him a non-objection certificate to mobilise funds to make necessary amendments.
As there was reluctance on the part of the committee, somebody intervened in favour of Sikka. The committee was pressured to issue NOC. “I can’t disclose the names at this stage”, Mehta said.
It was this NOC that Sikka later cited in his favour.
The issue was raised at the function first by Dal Khalsa general secretary Kanwarpal Singh and then former Akal Takht Jathedar Jasbir Singh Rode.
Kanwarpal raised the flip-flop by the SGPC and said it was unclear as to whether it was done by the SGPC knowingly or landed into this situation unconsciously. He expressed the apprehension that it was part of a deep rooted conspiracy to introduce idolatry in Sikh religion. He said this situation must be taken up by the Sikhs as a challenge. He blamed the grip of the family of Parkash Singh Badal on the institutions including the SGPC for the present mess.
He was supported by Rode who also questioned lack of coordination between the SGPC and Akal Takht that was eroding credibility of these institutions.
“Who was responsibility for giving green signal to Nanak Shah Fakir?”, he asked.
It was at this stage that Mehta got up with permission from Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma. Mehta had already addressed the gathering earlier. This time, he got up to provide background of the mess up.
Sikka stands ex-communicated from Sikh religion as he refused to withdraw the film and rather went to the Supreme Court.
With a member of the committee now coming out with the behind the scene goings on, the people who pressured the SAGPC panel must be exposed.
Would Jathedar Akal Takht summon them after getting details from Mehta?