FATEHGARH SAHIB—Simranjit Singh Mann, President of Shiromani Akali Dal (A) sent ripples through Panthik circles when he errantly labeled the Sikh martyrs of the Khalistan movement ‘agents’ of the Indian Government. Mann specifically pointed fingers at the well established Babbar Khalsa as well as Bhai Sohan Singh’s Panthik Committee while speaking to the press at Channanwal when he said that these organizations were planted by the Indian Government.
Mann’s statement about Babbar Khalsa and other militant groups being agents of the Indian Government can impact his votes in the SGPC elections. Though the groups pin-pointed by Mann remain banned and blacklisted in India, they have wide support in foreign countries. Martyrs of Babbar Khalsa and other pro-Khalistan organizations are recognized and cherished by Sikhs living in Western countries. Their portraits adorn gurdwara langar halls and are on display at nagar kirtans while teenagers blast dharmic music that boasts of their accomplishments.
Mann has continued to lose support from pro-Gurmat minded Sikhs in past years. His visit to ‘Dera Sachkhand Angeetha Sahib’ and paying obeisance to self-styled Sadh Balwant Sehorra caused a lot of controversy—and for that, even Mann had to apologize publicly to the Sikh Sangat. Perhaps it is due to this reason that Mann has not gained much success in the past decade. At one time Mann enjoyed respect and esteem in Panthik circles and his organization, the SAD (A), was well respected at a large scale.
Mann suffered another huge blow when Daljit Singh Bittu parted ways with Mann to form his own organization, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani). When leaving, Bittu said that Mann had not done any good for the Sikh religion or its political affairs in past several years.
Mann is contesting the SGPC elections from Channanwal which are due to take place on September 18. He stated that his party is not aligning with either Congress or the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) as both organizations are working against the propagation of the Sikh religion. He also lashed out against Damdami Taksal, Sant Samaj, Dal Khalsa, Delhi Shiromani Gurdwara Management Committee, Mehta Chawla and other organizations and leaders for contesting the elections with the aid of anti-Sikh organizations.