Amritsar: Triggering fears of a revival of the violent Khalistani movement several Sikh organizations came together on Tuesday and held a Sarbat Khalsa on the outskirts of Amritsar and selected former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassin Jagtar Singh Hawara as the jathedar (head priest) of the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of Sikhism in the Golden Temple complex.
The parallel conclave was predictably opposed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhadhak Committee (SGPC), the all-powerful and cash-rich body that controls most gurdwaras in northern India and is the final arbiter of the faith. And it was also opposed by Punjab’s ruling party, Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal (SAD-B), which draws legitimacy as a party representing Sikh interests.
The SAD-B and SGPC insisted Tuesday’s gathering had no authority as it was not held according to Sikh tradition. SGPC chief Avatar Singh Makkar said a Sarbat Khalsa could be called only by the Akal Takht jathedar at the Golden Temple.
Tuesday’s conclave threatened to take its challenge forward by organizing another Sarbat Khalsa, the diverse conference where matters temporal and divine are discussed, in the spring of 2016.
While reading out the resolutions, president of United Akali Dal (UAD) Mohkam Singh announced that they had appointed Hawara, currently in jail for masterminding the assassination of Beant Singh in 1995, as the jathedar of the Akal Takht following which the gathering loudly applauded the decision.
Since Hawara was in jail, former Lok Sabha MP of SAD (Amritsar) from Ferozepur Dhian Singh Mand was asked to hold the office in his absence.
Tuesday’s Sarbat Khalsa declared former Punjab DGP, Supercop KPS Gill and Lt General (retired) Kuldeep Singh Brar who had led Operation Bluestar as ‘tankhiya’ (religious outcastes) and directed them to appear before Akal Takht on November 30.