Amritsar, Aug.5 : The unceremonious removal of Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC), on Tuesday evoked sharp criticism from the Sikh Diaspora.
Various Sikh bodies trained their guns on Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, accusing him of running the SGPC as his own fiefdom.
The SGPC removed Vedanti from the post and replaced him with Giani Gurbachan Singh as the acting Jathedar of the Akal Takht.
This is not the first time that a Jathedar has been removed unceremoniously by the SGPC. The removal of Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode as the Akal Takht Jathedar started the trend of sacking Jathedars. Previously, a Jathedar either resigned or died in office.
Bhai Ranjit Singh, the daring Jathedar of Akal Takht was sacked on April 28,1998 and SGPC installed Giani Puran Singh as the new Jathedar on February 15,1999.Vedanti was appointed as acting Jathedar of Akal Takht on March 28,2000 after the SGPC then led by Bibi Jagir Kaur blamed Giani Puran Singh of violating the maryada (Sikh code of conduct) and sacked him.
Sources informed that in recent times Vedanti's statements had caused embarrassment to the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) group. A pro-Khalistan uttering during a visit to the USA, Vedanti's absence from India when two Sikhs were killed in clashes with Dera Saucha Sauda followers and his praise of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the confidence vote on July 21 and 22, reportedly led to differences between him and Badal.
Talking to ANI from San Francisco, Dr. Pritipal Singh convener of American Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee said that the present working of SGPC not only put the image of the Jathedar at stake, but also compromised the credibility of the SGPC. He said that the Badal family continues to dabble in Gurdwara affairs and politics, which termed as unfortunate.
He said that the Jathedar of the Akal Takht should be independent of all kinds of political and administrative pressures and manipulations and should be so elected that they enjoy the confidence of the entire Sikh Panth.
Talking from Washington D.C. ,Dr. Amerjit Singh Director, Khalistan Affairs Center alleged that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was using the SGPC for his own and his Hindu fundamentalist 'friends' political gains. He said that the way of removal of Jathedar shows that the Akal Takht Jathedar is merely an employ of the SGPC and nothing else.
He urged the Sikh Diaspora to unite and take away the control of the Sri Akal Takht from the clutches of SGPC and the SAD.
Targeting Badal, Dal Khalsaspokesman KanwerPal Singh Bittu said that Badal has shown that he has all the levers of power, be it political or religious, which is very dangerous. He said that the question was not just the removal of Vedanti but the style of functioning of the Akali Dal and its extension counter, the SGPC.
He charged the SGPC of implementing specific rules and guidelines for the working of the Akal Takht and other Takhts, and these were doomed to fail.
Meanwhile SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar who chaired the meeting of executive members of SGPC at Gurdwara Chevin Patshashi, Kurukshetra informed that the executive committee had accepted the resignation and have appointed Head Granthi of Sri Harmandir Sahib, Giani Gurbachan Singh as acting Jathedar of Akal Takht. By Ravinder Singh Robin