In response to questions raised about the carrying of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ‘saroop’ at the Ajnala site, where a protest led by radical Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh turned violent, the Akal Takht and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) have been silent.
Akal Takht officiating Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, on his social media page, made a vague statement without clearly stating whether any violation of the Sikh ‘rehat maryada’ was observed at the protesting site yesterday, which was marked by fierce scuffles between police and trespassers in the presence of the ‘saroop’.
Bibi Kiranjot Kaur has asked the jathedar to be clear and specific in his response. Akal Takht and the SGPC need to take cognisance of the incident or at least counsel the misguided Sikh youth, she argued, criticizing the idea of carrying ‘saroop’ at the protesting site.
“The protesters made excuses while giving examples of how Sikh soldiers or morcha organizers carried the saroop. In war times, soldiers never carried the ‘saroop’ in the battle zone as a ‘shield’ to resist an enemy attack, but enshrined it only in the peace zone. Similarly, during any morcha, ‘parkash’ is initiated at a site where there may be ‘Guru’s jaap’ without any violence. The jathedar should have intervened and counselled the youth to stop doing such things, if the Ajnala incident is considered an act of ignorance,” she said.
Harmeet Singh Kalka, the president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), strongly criticized the whole incident and requested that the Akal Takht intervene to avoid another incident like this in the future.
As a result of the Ajnala episode, the Akal Takht jathedar should have come out clear. “He should educate people on what ‘maryada’ is and what it means,” he said.
The chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, Iqbal Singh Lalpura, said, “In spite of the fact that ‘maryada’ is under the jurisdiction of the Akal Takht and the SGPC, I believe that whatever happened at Ajnala is disappointing and concerning.” The Guru Granth Sahib represents the Sikh philosophy around the world. It cannot be justified to include it in any protest or agitation. In this direction, the Akal Takht and SGPC should clarify what ‘maryada’ should be followed.”
The former Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, also questioned the motive behind carrying the holy Guru Granth Sahib ‘saroop’ to the protest site.
Sarchand Singh Khiala, a BJP leader, said, “Sikhs have held hundreds of marches and organized morchas.”. To my knowledge, this is the first time the holy ‘saroop’ has been misused for personal gains. The incident should have been taken seriously by the Akal Takht. In my letter to the jathedar, I asked him if this act is blasphemous. ”