Chandigarh, November 4: The Sarbat Khalsa congregation being organised by United Akali Dal and other organisations at Talwandi Sabo aims at creating awareness about Sikh identity at the global level keeping in view increasing attacks on the members of the community by mistaking them as Muslims. This is the area in which Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has failed miserably as no concerted effort has ever been made in this sphere. It is only a few weeks back that the SGPC brought out the first ever primer in English about Sikh religion.
The attacks on Sikhs have increased since the confrontation between the US and allies with the Islamic world that had turned into clash of civilisations. A section of the Muslims too wear turban and keep flowing bear. Whatever effort has been done to create awareness has been done by the Sikhs at the local level in those countries.
United Akali Dal chief Mohkam Singh says as a first step in that direction, Sikhs residing in the rest of India and foreign countries would have to be involved with the SGPC and Akal Takht through a mechanism acceptable to all. The Sarbat Khalsa would make its own recommendation in this regard based upon the proposals that are received from various sections of Sikh society. One of the proposals is to provide for some sort of advisory body for the SGPC representing all sections of Sikhs. It may be mentioned that SGPC is a statutory body under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925 that can be amended only by the Parliament.
The SGPC general house should meet more often and the adoption of budget should not just be a formality as at present. There should be discussion like in legislatures. The advisory body could send its suggestions as non-official advice for which some mechanism could be evolved.
Yet another key issue is the procedure for the appointment and functioning of the Akal Takht Jathedar. The Sarbat Khalsa organisations rightly start with the premise that Akal Takht is not a gurdwara and hence, its Jathedar should not be a granthi. Jathedar Akal Takht is supposed to lead the Sikh Qaum at the global level. This is a unique institution that symbolises trans-border Sikh sovereignty. The Akal Takht Jathedar should have advisory body that should be above party politics consisting of eminent Sikhs from across the world.
recommendations should be sought from Sikh organisations from across the globe for the appointment of the Jathedar and the final decision should be taken through some laid down procedure acceptable to all through the process of elimination. The Sarbat Khalsa would seek suggestions before recommending the procedure to the SGPC. The appointing body in case of Takht jathedars is the SGPC. The system of appointment and functioning of the Jathedar can only be operationalised through the SGPC.
Interestingly, with such issues on the agenda, the Sarbat Khalsa congretaion would not come into direct confrontation with the Akali Dal, the party that dominates in the general house of the SGPC. The confrontation between the Akali Dal dominated SGPC and the hard-line Sikh outfits has not benefitted anyone, except the anti-Sikh forces.
The state government is making tight security arrangements for the congregation. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had a meeting with Director General of Police Suresh Arora and other senior police officials yesterday to review the security arrangements. It was decided to requisition 20 companies of para-military forces. Apart from that, about 2000 policemen would be on duty. The security forces would be in position on November 9.
Yet another significant development coincides with Sarbat Khalsa in the run up to the February 2016 Assembly election and this is the fast unto death by Balwant Singh Rajoana, sentenced to death in the case of assassination of chief minister Beant Singh in 1995. He is lodged in Patiala jail. The SGPC has filed mercy petition seeking clemency. He wants that petition to be expedited. The decision on the mercy petition has the potential to change the political discourse in this sensitive state. The SGPC had filed the petition when the court had issued warrant to execute his death sentence and date had been fixed.
Jagtar Singh Hawara, who is also in jail in Beant Singh assassination case, was designated as the Akal Takht Jathedar at the last Sarbat Khalsa congregation at Chabba village near Amritsar on November 10 last. Efforts are on to get him parole for a day to enable him to attend the Talwandi Sabo congregation.
It is to be seen as to how the Sarbat Khalsa congregation impacts the political discourse.