Confrontation intensifies in the Sikh religio-political matrix

Dhadrianwale and dhumma

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, May 26: The Sikh religio-political matrix continues to be on the boil with confrontation between Damdami Taksal chief Harnam Singh Dhumma and Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale intensifying. The conflict is stated to be rooted in the Nanakshahi calendar and adherence to the code of conduct sanctified from the Akal Takht that was finalised by a broad-based committee set up by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee before independence. The Sant Samaj headed by Dhumma was instrumental in the Akal Takht going back on the Nanakshahi calendar whose first copy, ironically, was released by Parkash Singh Badal himself at Takht Damdama Sahib on Baisakhi in 2004.

The Taksal had come into prominence when Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale took over as its chief in August, 1977. Dhumma is successor of the heritage that is associated with that warrior but he is close to Chief Minister Badal. Sant Samaj under his leadership has been extending support to the Shiromani Akali Dal in elections. However, Dhadrianwale articulates anti-Badal sentiment in the Sikh stream and he hit the headlines when people came out on the roads in protest against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib beginning with the tragic incident at Bargari last year.

The immediate provocation is the attack on Dhadrianwale in Ludhiana district by men from Damdami Taksal in which his associate Bhupinder Singh was gunned down. The assailants have owned the action  while issuing the warning that those who speak against Taksal would not be spared.

While Dhumma had today convened a meeting of the Sikh organisation in Taksal’s camp, the other stage was the bhog ceremony of Bhupinder Singh in his village attended by large number of people and addressed by Dhadrianwale where he articulated the issues.

He made it clear that he had no faith in the Parkash Singh Badal government and as such, the investigation into the attack on his cavalcade should be handed over to the CBI. He called upon his followers to submit memoranda to the respective deputy commissioners in this regard.

He main stress was on his commitment to the Sikh religious code of conduct (Rehat Maryada) but the same is followed by neither the Damdami  Taksal nor the so called Sant  Samaj. These people believe more in ritualism.

Dhadrianwale is votary of the original Nanakshahi calendar whose basic thrust was on separate  and exclusive Sikh identity. Nanakshahi calendar was solar almanac while the one earlier being followed to which the SGPC has reverted is the lunar one. The Nanakshahi calendar was implemented after years of deliberations.

Interestingly, both Dhadrianwale and Dhumma targeted the Akal Takht Jathedar although for different reasons. Dhumma was among those who had given a call for boycott of Giani Gurbachan Singh following flip-flop in the religious domain under his leadership. For Dhadrianwale, the  present Takht jathedars have lost their legitimacy and he reiterated today  saying, “We don’t accept them as jathedars’. It may be mentioned that these jathedars whose appointing authority is the SGPC were ‘removed’ by the November 10, 2015 Sarbat Khalsa and replaced by another set but that is notional. The basic issue is that of the SGPC appointees losing their legitimacy.

The Akal Takht Jathedar had last week issued appeal against avoiding what he called as internecine war among the Sikhs.

It is the commitment and adherence to the sanctified code of conduct on which the battle lines  are being drawn and it is for Akal Takht and the SGPC to intervene. These two organisations have utterly failed over the years on the Maryada issue as the same is not followed by even the senior Akali leaders many of whom follow the Maryada of these deras. It is these derewalas who had been instrumental in pressing Akal Takht and SGPC through Dhumma to withdraw Nanakshahi calendar.

Sources maintain that this calendar had emerged as a major issue during recent tour of Dhadrianwale abroad that sparked open attack on each other.

Dhadrianwale today went to the extent of saying, without naming Dhumma, that agents of ‘agencies’ were behing the attack on his cavalcade.

Dhumma charge him with playing into the hands of anti-Panthic forces.

The confrontation is not in the interest of Punjab and its people.


Jagtar Singh


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