550th Parkash Purb: High priests to take final call on joint celebrations

In an attempt to break the ongoing deadlock between Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Punjab government over holding joint celebrations of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary, high priests of the five takhts (seats of Sikh religious authority) are to meet on Monday.

Scheduled at the secretariat of Akal Takht, the meeting begins at 10 am. “Five jathedars of the takhts will take a final call on the joint celebrations at Sultanpur Lodhi,” said Jaspal Singh, personal assistant (PA) to jathedar of the Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh.

The government and the apex gurdwara body have been accusing each other of sabotaging the other’s efforts to orchestrate a joint event on November 11 and 12. The two parties have held three rounds of talks to reach a consensus, but to no avail. While the government has already set up a pandal for the event, the SGPC has given the contract worth crores of rupees to a private firm for a separate pandal.

The state government, on Tuesday, had put the onus of holding joint celebrations on the Akal Takht. Two state cabinet ministers—Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa (jails and cooperation) and Charanjit Singh Channi (minister technical educational and industrial training) who are representing the government in the coordination committee formed by the Akal Takht for the joint event—had met acting Akal Takht jathedar to convey the state government proposal on the joint event.

Punjab chief minister (CM) Amarinder Singh had also spoken to the jathedar on the phone. The ministers had said that later they, too, on the CM’s behalf, had urged the jathedar to direct the gurdwara body to support official events and not waste Rs 12-15 crores of the sangat’s money on a separate stage, especially when the state government had already developed infrastructure for key programmes. The ministers had said the state government had authorised the jathedar to take a decision on holding a joint event.

After meeting the ministers, the jathedar had said ‘all possible efforts’ will be made to jointly celebrate the event. “The final decision on this will be taken during the meeting of five Singh sahibans (clergymen) on October 21,” he had said.

SGPC president, Gobind Singh Longowal, had also said they would follow instructions of the Akal Takht in this regard.

During the meeting, the 5 clergymen may also contemplate relieving Sikhs, who were either excommunicated or announced ‘tankhaiya’.

According to sources, former minister Sucha Singh Langah and chief khalsa diwan (CKD)’s former president Charanjit Singh Chadha are among those who have been approached by Akal Takhat to review the punishment pronounced upon them, keeping in view the Guru’s birth anniversary.

Langah and Chadha were, ex-communicated and debarred, respectively, from holding religious stage for two years. Langah was excommunicated after a video surfaced in which “he was seen in a compromising position with a woman in 2017.” He was later acquitted by a court. Similarly, a sleazy video featuring Chadha had gone viral.

The jathedar had earlier said that cases of only those who had committed mistakes in their individual capacity could be re-assessed. He had clarified that cases related to heads of anti-Sikh sects could never be re-evaluated.

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