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Akal Takht acting jathedar publicly punishes SGPC chief over missing Guru Granth Sahib saroops

Senior vice-president Rajinder Singh Mehta removed from all SGPC posts for a year; committee staffers who tossed nihang’s turban summoned at Takht

Updated: Sep 18, 2020, 17:17 IST

By Surjit Singh, Hindustan Times Amritsar

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal along with other office-bearers doing (Sameer Sehgal/HT)

Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh publicly punished Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Gobind Singh Longowal and executive committee members on Friday for failing to check the misappropriation in its publication department that led to 328 Guru Granth Sahib saroops going missing.

The SGPC chief and executive members appeared before the highest Sikh temporal seat with folded hands to apologise for their negligence. It was a rare occasion when the jathedar has pulled up incumbent office-bearers, who appointed him, in the presence of devotees.

As Longowal sought forgiveness, the jathedar said, “How shameful it is that employees used to give the saroops illegally to the sangat (community), as has been found in the inquiry, and pocket the money at the place where the saroops are published. The SGPC is not aware of this misappropriation? Is it not a blunder? The SGPC office-bearers never checked the records. Is it not negligence?”

“Yes, it was our mistake,” Longowal replied.

Pronouncing the punishment on the spot, the jathedar said, “Do parkarma of Darbar Sahib sarovar (Circumambulate the holy tank) right now, chanting Satnam-Waheguru and then be present here again. Don’t talk to each other and fold your hands while doing so.”

Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh and the Sikh clergy questioning SGPC executive committee members before punishing them in the case of the missing Guru Granth Sahib saroops in Amritsar on Friday. ( Sameer Sehgal/HT )


On their return, the jathedar awarded the remaining religious punishment. “You are directed to hold one Akhand Path (non-stop recitation of Guru Granth Sahib) at Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib for pashchatap (regret and remorse) for the 2016 fire incident that led to saroops getting burnt. Hold another Akhand Path at Akal Takht. When that Akhand Path would be going on at the Takht, the SGPC office-bearers and executive members will sweep the street leading to Darbar Sahib from Saragarhi Serai to Ghantaghar Chowk,” he said.

Without mentioning the SGPC’s U-turn by revoking its resolution to file criminal cases against staffers indicted in the inquiry, the jathedar said, “Reversing decisions is not fair and it has hurt the reputation of the SGPC. The Akal Takht Sahib directs it to take decisions after consulting Sikh intellectuals and scholars.”

Accompanied by four other Sikh clergymen, including Takht Kesgarh Sahib jathedar Giani Raghbir Singh and Takht Patna Sahib jathedar Giani Ranjit Singh, Giani Harpreet Singh banned the office-bearers and executive panel from addressing any public gathering for a month except on September 28 when the budget session is scheduled.


Taking note of the SGPC task force’s act of using force against agitating Sikh activists to disperse them and tossing the turban of a nihang, the jathedar termed the incident a “sacrilege of the turban” and summoned the employees involved.

Giani Harpreet Singh ordered the SGPC to remove senior vice-president Rajinder Singh Mehta from all the posts for a year.

The Akal Takht issued this direction for all those who were office-bearers and members of the executive committee in 2016 for not organising pashchatapsamagam (function to express regret and remorse) after the sacrilege of the saroops in a fire at the SGPC’s publishing house in May that year.

On being summoned, all former office-bearers and executive members appeared before the Takht. Mehta was an executive member at that time.

They were also directed to do sehaj path of Guru Granth Sahib.


Earlier, the jathedar asked them to face the sangat (Sikh community) and admit that they had committed a mistake.

For playing a role in granting pardon to former Akali minister Sucha Singh Langah, who was excommunicated for an immoral act by Takht, the Sikh clergy awarded tankhah (religious punishment) to SGPC member Gurinderpal Singh Gora, Rattan Singh Zaffarwal, the husband of an SGPC member, and Damdami Taksal media adviser Sarchand Singh.


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