Sikh figurehead faces hardliners heat over pardon
- Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh fell out of approval with Sikh hardliners when he pardoned Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on September 24.
- This decision of his was seen as politically inspired.
- Even though the pardon was revoked, the radicals have been demanding his and two other Takht heads removal, calling them puppets of the Badal-led SAD government.
Akal Takht and Jathedars
The highest seat of the Sikh religion is called the Akal Takht. The Jathedars (high priests) are appointed by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), an elected body of the Sikhs sometimes called the "Parliament of Sikhs."
Hardliners appoint Hawara as the new Jathedar
- People assembled for the Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba village and handed a decree against the Takht heads for ostensibly operating under the control of the Badal government.
- The Sikh radicals designated Jagtar Singh Hawara (a malefactor in the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh) as the new acting Akal Takht Jathedar, displacing Gurbachan Singh.
- They stripped CM Badal's "Panth Rattan—Fakhr-e-qaum" title.
Mand to be the Interim Jathedar
Since Jagtar Singh Hawara is in jail, in his absence Giani Dhian Singh Mand will act as the interim Jathedar of the Akal Takht.
Sikh hardliners taken into preventive custody
- The chief organisers of the 10 November 'Sarbat Khalsa' assembly-Simranjit Singh Mann, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) President and Bhai Mokham Singh, United Akali Dal leader were taken into preventive custody by the police.
- The arrests were made to avoid any 'breach of peace' after it was announced that the newly-appointed jathedars would be addressing the community from the Akal Takht simultaneously with Gurbachan Singh.
Golden-Temple secured; Sikhs asked to refrain from celebrations
- Security was heightened at the Plaza outside the Golden Temple where Rapid Action Force (RAF) and almost 250 Punjab police personnel had been deployed.
- There was also a fall in the number of pilgrims visiting the shrine because of SGPC's decision of not celebrating Diwali over Guru Granth Sahib sacrilege.
- The SGPC had requested the Sikhs to "refrain from fireworks and the ceremonial lighting."
Interim Akal Takht Jathedar detained in Amritsar
- The interim Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Dhian Singh Mand (appointed by radical Sikhs) was detained by police.
- The detention came after he and his supporters marched on the Amritsar roads and yelled slogans in support of Jagtar Singh Hawara- Beant Singh's assassin.
- Before this, Sikh youngsters waved black flags and brandished swords as the Akal Takht Jathedar read the annual 'Sandesh'.
Punjab Government blames Congress for 'conspiracy'
- The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) rejected all the resolutions passed at the 'Sarbat Khalsa'.
- They claimed that these resolutions were a "part of a deep-rooted conspiracy to disturb the hard-earned atmosphere of peace and communal harmony".
- Further, SAD contended that Congress leaders took part in the assembly proving that a Congress "conspiracy" was behind the event.