AMRITSAR SAHIB, Punjab—Giani Harpreet Singh, SGPC-appointed acting jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib, is in a quandary over the gurdwara body’s plea made to him to intervene in the matter of missing 328 Guru Granth Sahib’s holy saroops and come out to punish its staffers found guilty by the inquiry report.
Chairing a meeting of SGPC’s Dharam Parchar Committee, president Gobind Singh Longowal got a resolution passed by the committee at Chandigarh on October 13. In the resolution, the committee made an appeal to the jathedar to award exemplary punishments to the SGPC employees and officials indicted in the report of an inquiry conducted by Advocate Ishar Singh-led panel constituted by the Takht Sahib.
Even as this clear-cut attempt of the SGPC chief to put a ball to the court of jathedar and shirk his responsibility to take action against the guilty staffers, the jathedar is under pressure in wake of this, some of the sources close to him told Sikh24.
The appeal made by the SGPC is being seen as a dirty trick to shoulder the responsibility to the jathedar illegitimately and a bid to damage the honour of Jathedar’s office because punishing the persons is not in his jurisdiction according to their offense. This type of offense should be considered criminal and not a Panthik dispute. The staffers committed misappropriation that led to the saroops going missing from SGPC’s publishing house.
Dissenting members of the SGPC—Kiranjot Kaur, Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Amrik Singh Shahpur and Mahinder Singh Hussainpur—have cautioned him of it. In a memorandum handed over to the jathedar on October 20, the members said the case of the misappropriation is an administrative matter of the SGPC, not that religious maryada (code of conduct) and it is the responsibility of the gurdwara body to punish its staffers. They urged the jathedar to reject the appeal made by the SGPC to uphold the sanctity, maryada and respect of the Takht Sahib.
Considering all these aspects, Giani Harpreet Singh is not able to take any decision in this regard and he is calling various Sikh scholars at his office to get their suggestions about what could be done in this matter. On Tuesday, he called some Sikh intellectuals including Dr. Inderjit Singh Gogoani, Dr. Amarjit Singh and Khalsa College Principal Dr. Mehal Singh etc. to discuss this matter. He also took advice of a few Sikh journalists posted in Amritsar.
Actually, the jathedar already directed the gurdwara body to punish its staffers according to the recommendations of the inquiry report.
Following this direction, the executive committee of the SGPC on August 27 this year resolved to file criminal cases against its six staffers dismissed for playing a role in the misappropriation in this case. A week after, however, it made a U-turn by deciding to take action against them within the organisation as per the panthik traditions. It cited that the criminal cases would pave the way for external interference into its internal matter.
It’s U-turn angered the Sikh organizations. Against its move, the indefinite morcha by the Sikh bodies is continuing outside Teja Singh Samundri Hall, head office of the SGPC, for the last a month. This morcha is proving to be a big headache for the gurdwara body which is controlled by the SAD (Badal).
Sources said, “The SGPC office bearers are running away from its decision to file criminal cases because they have certain apprehensions. They fear that if it is done, the staffers against whom the case is to be registered, would move court and expose the role of the SGPC members and the leaders of the SAD (Badal) in this matter”. As their U-turn faced backlash, now they are trying to get it done via Akal Takht Sahib at the cost of its respect and sanctity in the community.