Op/Ed – A word on the current controversy in the Sikh panth by Dr. Gurtej Singh IAS

I have been following the unsavoury controversy over the contribution of Amitabh Bachchan to the Covid relief efforts of the Delhi Sikhs through the Gurdwaras. It is noticeable that most of the participants in the ongoing dialogue are devoid of the vocabulary relevant to Sikh spiritual discipline, social mores and even everyday concepts. Several ‘leaders’ of our society appear to be like the blind leading the deaf.

It started with Amitabh Bachchan’s contribution of two crores of rupees to the Covid effort becoming known. He happens to be the villain who was a part of the Rajiv coterie, which organised, and according to popular perception, encouraged and oversaw the massacre of the Sikhs all over Delhi and in the Congress-ruled states of India after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. More than a hundred thousand innocent Sikhs were killed in the most gruesome means by the cruellest means ever employed in history in that massacre. In comparison, the medieval torture of the Mughals, Afghans and the British, which are etched into the Sikh memory forever, paled into comparative irrelevance.

Significantly, Amitabh Bachchan accepted and enjoyed the status of a Hindu icon seeking revenge from the beleaguered, innocent, disarmed, unsuspecting, unaware people whom the government of his friend Rajiv Gandhi had taken a solemn oath by the Constitution of India to protect. It has been hinted all these years that the call of Rajiv Gandhi resulting in rapes, arson was relayed through Amitabh Bachchan, to begin with, before the madness became all-pervasive, and the slogan “khoon ka badla khoon” became the slogan of the mob imitating the mythological hero Parashuram.

Bachchan now pleads innocence of the horrendous crime. We may examine why that is not credible. Amitabh Bachchan was not among the benign people who went from pillar to post pleading with the authorities to call the army and stop the massacre though he had access to the highest in the land. The injured and normal Sikh patients requiring hospitalisation were thrown out to fend for themselves on the road. Amitabh Bachchan was not seen on any street spreading empathy and hope. Soon came cruel winter. It was terrible for the homeless Sikhs having no protection against cold and rain. Bachchan was nowhere seen offering one blanket to a newborn baby or a Sikh mother. The goons of Rajiv blocked ample aid sent by our brothers and sisters from abroad. Bachchan supported them silently. The insurance claims of the Sikhs were not entertained by the authorities bending over backwards to please the street goons who ruled over India. Bachchan was again nowhere to be seen. A set of noble people decided to document the massacre; Bachchan was not amongst them, nor did he support them with a single penny.

For decades the Sikhs struggled for justice. Bachchan had slipped into the famed Hindu sunn. For full seventeen years, he remained proud of his association with the worst in India and celebrated the massacre with them. All this time, his sinister public image persisted, and he made no effort to efface it.

Then in the year 2021, after another decade, Bachchan tries to impose himself upon the Sikh consciousness by investing two crores of rupees into the new adventure as mentioned above.

In the interval between, a momentous event had happened. The collaborators amongst us invited Bachchan to attend a Sikh event at Anandpur Sahib as an honoured guest. The non-collaborators protested and blocked his presence on the plea of his being a party to the massacre of the Sikhs in 1984, and thereby not worthy of inflicting his stinking carcass upon the Sikh congregation at the glorious Takht of the Khalsa faith. The Big B in Bachchan was stung badly. In a complete change in character, as it often happens in cheap Bollywood films, this suddenly converted him into a “half Sikh.” With shameless Gurinder Singh Bawa as the barge, he ferried across a letter to the Akal Takht. The Badal minion masquerading as the Akal Takht Jathedar entertained his letter and hid it carefully with his soiled cloak. The Sikh people came to know of it only during the present controversy.

Without explaining his long stubborn silence and subsequent conduct, Bachchan wants the Sikhs to believe without proof that he never raised the offensive slogan in 1984 and that it was an irresponsible accusation that condemned him to the position. He asserted he belongs to a non-existent species called “half Sikh.” So in that capacity, he wants all Sikhs to pronounce him not guilty while he would not even offer a clear explanation.

A decade later, comes an “honourable justice” R.S. Sodhi claiming relationship with the accused. He does not have the good sense to recuse the case on that count but rushes full speed to pronounce him not guilty. The only evidence he cites is that of a stock and ever-reliable government witness Tarlochan Singh. The killer calls never travelled from the mouth of Bachchan to the ear of Tarlochan Singh, although he, the witness, was present in the same premises, is his logic. How brilliant judge sahib! You are the first legally illiterate judge the Sikh people have seen in recent times.

Not only that ‘your lordship’, but you have a double distinction of being the most illiterate Sikh also, despite the boast of being Guru Tegh Bahadur’s descendent and having a coveted plot of land on the exalted Guru’s estate. Yet another accursed Sodhi whose name no Sikh has ever pronounced since 1707, the one which was installed in Guru Gobind Singh’s vacant seat by Bahadur Shah, was also from your clan and maybe claiming ownership of two such plots on the hallowed spot. According to you, nobody has the right to interfere in matters between a Sikh and the Guru. There you are right, ‘your worship,’ but the accused before you, whom you are also simultaneously serving as a client, has claimed to be only “a half Sikh.” That totally demolishes the hall of smoke and mirrors built by you, incapacity of a patron to a client, and detracts from the merits and the materiality of the facts appreciated by you as a judge. This confers a third distinction on you of being perhaps the only judge not governed by stark evidence by common sense or social concerns but by dark prejudices, notions of superiority and entitlement that the educated world has shed long ago.

‘My lord!’ you may be a grandson of Sodhi Kishan Singh, about whom it may be presumed that he was a worthy man. Nevertheless, he did not pass on to you an iota of Sikhi that he may have had in him. Therefore, it will come to you as a shock that no Sikh has ever given alms (daan) to the Guru. Who do you think the Guru is? Here is another shocker for you: Kartar; he is the sovereign of both worlds – the mundane and the spiritual. He is the giver who sustains the creation: jio pind jin saajea ditta pehnan khaan; you might have also heard: too daata dataar tera ditta khawna and you might have read it in the Japji: jo kichh payia so eka vaar. Try to figure out the meanings of these words. With Guru Nanak’s endowment of mere twenty rupees, the world is enjoying his hospitality in the form of the never-ending langar equally available to friend and foe. The hackneyed phrase is used for effect though it runs counter to the fact that a Sikh has no foes. All the Sikhs will condemn the sons of Suris and the descendants of Sodhis who believe that they are incapable of taking pity on the Guru and giving alms to him.

Mister, ex-judge, you do not even understand that the Guru would not accept a glass of water from a man having no social concerns. You should read the following anecdote from the life of Guru Gobind Singh. One day the Guru asked for a glass of water. An alert young man wearing expensive clothes rushed out at once and brought a glass filled with water to the Guru. The Guru looked at his unsoiled garments and his soft fingers and asked, “young man have you ever served another human being in any way?” The reply was that he had, for the first time, brought this water for anyone ever in his whole life. With a flickering tinge of sadness in his voice, the Guru said, “what kind of a Sikh are you? I must refuse the water and rather remain thirsty. Please take it away.” This is what the Guru, through his Khalsa, is now saying to the sons of Suris and grandsons of Sodhis, ‘take your blood-soaked millions away.’ A single paisa offered by a grass cutter to Guru Hargobind is more valuable amongst us and is celebrated today as it will be as long as the world exists. As for you, mister ex-judge, we do not know what fragment of you is a Sikh. Are you 1% or a half Sikh like your nephew, the Bachchan? But it is clear that in talking of giving alms to the Guru. Shame on you that you do not even realise what you have done.

As for Manjinder Singh Sirsa, the kingpin of the present racket, the entire Sikh world is aware of his doings in Delhi in the last decade. He has violated every tenet of Sikhi during his association with the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee. He has been directly responsible for the decline of every institution built by that body. He has, in popular perception, destroyed every glorious tradition of the Sikh faith as much as he could. It is believed that he is doing this dagger in hand aimed directly at the very heart of the faith. It is a great misfortune that he ever came to the helm of affairs. It will be a calamity if he is not immediately removed from that position. His gimmicks and advertisement stunts are costing dear to the global Sikh people.

Emperor Akbar offered to bear the langar expenses. The Guru firmly refused the offer. Langer is our tribute to Akalpurakh. Now, after the Guru Granth, the Khalsapanth is the sovereign. Our exercise of sovereignty requires us to act Akalpurakh in history and allay hunger, pain, want and suffering. We can never be found deficient. The entire creation is offering its bounties to Akalpurakh. The creation exists within Him. It is absolutely essential that in serving food to the needy who come to the Gurdwara, we try to serve Him and Him alone. In return, eventually, we expect a hint of recognition at His Court. It is our salvation. The expenses for the langar must come from the honest earning of the Sikh people and those who agree with the basic premise. No money bag can be allowed to hijack the unique sacred institution. We serve as long as we are capable. We long to enhance our capacity to serve by all legitimate means as much as we can. But according to His Will, we have had phases in the past in which the langar has gone into ‘nir-ahar meditative trance’ (mast). Then, according to the instructions of the fourth Nanak, ‘we have remained satiated with hunger’ je bhukh deh ta it hi rajaa dukh vich sookh manai, ang 757. May that never happen, but we are prepared for the worst. So stop behaving as if you are running the show with your clever manipulations and greed for slush money.

You have already dealt another cruel blow on the heart of Sikhi by bringing Covid-19 and possibly black fungus into the Lakhi Shah Banjara Hall. Thereby you have admitted all devout Sikhs and Gurdwara staff into the immediate ambit of these two deadly diseases. You had ample alternate places in Delhi, and suggestions were given to you. You presumed that the Gurdwara is your personal fief. You persisted. What answer will you give to the relatives of the first person who, God forbid, catches the disease resulting from your Don Quixotic adventure?

The Khalsa is taught to use the money for the common good and knows that this alone confers value on wealth. On the banks of the Jamuna at Paonta Sahib, on the banks of the Godawari at Nanded and in between, on the banks of the Sarsa rivulet, the Guru threw all these shining stones, gold and silver into the water. There are circumstances in which money is useless; it is even an encumbrance. The two crore rupees of an evil-intentioned man is as dirty as money can get. Throw it off, Sirsa or, to your eternal damnation, someone else will do so at the right time.

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