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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kirtan Darbar, Bhai Gurmeet Singh Shaant

Bhai Sahib Bhai Gurmeet Singh Ji Shaant Jalandar wale will be doing kirtan on Sunday 31st August 2008 from 6:45 p.m to 8:00 p.m at Shri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Clarence Place, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 1LD.

Please attend and enjoy great kirtan. The Kirtan darbar is being held by Guru Nanak Komal Sangeet Academy Gravesend in partnership with Kent Kirtan Society.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Jathedar Gurbachan Singh..........

Installation Akal Takht chief for uniformity in maryada

After his installation ceremony here today, Giani Gurbachan Singh, Jathedar of Akal Takht, emphasised the need for bringing uniformity of “maryada” (Sikh code) in all Sikh institutions and the accomplishment of the desired goals as per the age- old Sikh tenets.
“The distinct identity of the Sikhs should be a source of inspiration for the world,” he said.
Seeking immediate arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the newly installed Jathedar asked the Central and Haryana governments to seal his dera in Sirsa and its branches.
Answering a question, Giani Gurbachan Singh said he would discuss with other Sikh clerics in case the dera chief offered to appear before Akal Takht as a humble Sikh.
To yet another question whether he would ask Shiromani Akali Dal supremo to get baptised, he simply said: “We will try”. He, however, said he would personally monitor the movement of “Amrit Parchar”.
Sikh clerics from Takht Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib, SGPC chief, Nihang sects, Akali factions, student federations and Nirmala Sants, etc, presented the Jathedar with “Dastars” (turbans) in the presence of a moderate gathering. SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra hoped that the new Jathedar would be instrumental in resolving all the pending issues of the Sikh community.
However, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the outgoing Jathedar, was conspicuous by his absence at the installation ceremony. Giani Puran Singh, who had been unceremoniously removed as Jathedar of Akal Takht by the SGPC eight years ago, presented Dastar to the new Jathedar. Vedanti succeeded him then.
SGPC chief Avtar Singh said former Jathedar did not turn up at the function though Harbhajan Singh, manager of the Darbar Sahib visited his residence yesterday to invite him for the ceremony. He said Vedanti had tendered his resignation due to “ill-health” and the committee appreciated his services as Jathedar and Granthi of the Golden Temple. When asked that Vedanti had told the media that he was forced to quit, he said it was an afterthought.
The SGPC president said strict action would be taken against those officials who had locked the Akal Takht secretariat with a view to stopping the entry of Vedanti into it.
The SGPC president said the long-pending matter of appointing a religious adviser to the Jathedar of Akal Takht would be made if Jathedar Gurbachan Singh desired so. Former Jathedar Vedanti had sent a number of reminders to the SGPC to appoint religious adviser to streamline the functioning of the Akal Takht secretariat.

The ban imposed on Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar of Patna Sahib, from attending the meetings of Sikh clergy has been lifted by Giani Gurbachan Singh, a few minutes after his installation as the Jathedar of Akal Takht here today.
Giani Gurbachan Singh was one of the signatories to the “Gurmatta”, which had reversed the controversial edicts pronounced by Giani Iqbal Singh from Takht Patna Sahib. The Patna clergy had impeached Jathedars of three Takhts of Punjab, Akal Takht, Takht Damdama Sahib and Takht Kesgarh Sahib, besides the Head Granthi (now Jathedar Akal Takht) and Granthi of the Golden Temple, debarring their involvement in any Panthic activity.
The decision of Giani Gurbachan Singh to lift the ban on Giani Iqbal Singh may cause embarrassment to the SGPC, which had been demanding the latter’s resignation.

UK-based religious adviser to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jasdev Singh Rai, today served a legal notice on the SGPC and the union home minister for the “unceremonious removal’ of Jathedar of Akal Takht.
In an e-mail to The Tribune, Rai said he would also move the UNO against the SGPC and the Government of India for violating the Gurdwara Act, passed by the Lok Sabha in 1925.
It added the statutory body SGPC had gone beyond its limit as permitted under Article 25 (a) of managing shrines and other gurdwaras by unilaterally assuming authority and responsibility to manage, appoint and influence the highest temporal office of the Sikh community.

Vedanti skips Giani Gurbachan Singh's coronation

The rancour was finally evident on Thursday with former jathedar of Akal Takht Joginder Singh Vedanti not attending the coronation of Giani Gurbachan Singh. Vedanti’s ouster has raised questions about the functioning of SGPC and SAD’s influence over it. Though SGPC president Avtar Singh maintained that Vedanti submitted his resignation owing to poor health, the theory gaining ground is that he was asked to do this to avoid being sacked. Balwant Singh Dhillon, professor and Sikh scholar, opined that the existing system of removal and appointment of jathedars only suits those who think they are competent to appoint them. He said he failed to understand the reason behind Vedanti’s sudden exit. Karan Singh, founder president of the Sikh Foundation, Switzerland, said the Sikh diaspora was not happy with the treatment meted out to Vedanti. He alleged that the SAD was ruling the SGPC by proxy and was using the influence of Akal Takht for its political purposes. Karan said his foundation would honour Vedanti and would also initiate an international move against his "forcible" removal. "No one should be allowed to remove a person who is revered by the Panth in this fashion," he said. Vedanti was not available for comments. His personal assistant Prithipal Singh said he didn’t understand why SGPC had locked the Akal Takht secretariat. "I have my personal computer, "Chandoa Sahib" and few other belongings there," he said. Prithipal also said Vedanti would come before media at an appropriate time.

Meeting of High Priests soon on Dera row: Top Sikh cleric

New Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh on Thursday said that he would soon convene a meeting of five Sikh High Priests to chalk out Panthic strategy on tackling the lingering Dera Sacha Sauda row.
Talking to reporters in Amritsar soon after he was installed as Jathedar of the Akal Takht, the higest temporal seat of the Sikhs, he asked the Sikh community to abjure confrontation with the Dera Sacha Sauda sect.
The top cleric said a meeting of five Sikh High Priests would be held soon at the Akat Takht secretariat in the Golden Temple to chalk out Panthic strategy on the Dera Sacha Sauda row.
He sought help of Punjab, Haryana and Union governments in curbing what he said anti-Sikh activities being carried out by the sect.
Last year, Joginder Singh Vedanti, who quit as Akal Takht Jathedar two days ago, issued an edict calling upon Sikhs to boycott the Dera Sacha Sauda.
Calling for maintaining peace and tranquillity in Punjab, the new Jathedar asked Sikhs not to get provoked by activities of the sect.
He said he was hopeful those who were involved in acts of violence against the Sikhs would be punished by courts.
The top cleric said services of SGPC, a statutory body which manages affairs of Sikh shrines, would be sought to tackle the contentious issue.
Earlier, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar told the gathering at the coronation ceremony that the installation of the new Jathedar would help solve the Dera row.

Praising PM led to Akal Takht top priest's removal

What led to the sacking of Joginder Singh Vedanti as the head priest of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs? "I was sacked," said Vedanti, "because I supported Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the crucial trust vote." It is learnt that a top delegation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee, including its president Avtar Singh Makkar, general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bahur and executive committee member Rajinder Singh Mehta rushed to Vedanti to collect his resignation letter. Though they deny that they were involved, Vedanti told on Wednesday that he was forced to resign and Giani Gurbachan Singh was appointed in his place.
"Some days ago, the three of them came to me and asked me to resign. They were very angry and told me that some of my remarks had upset their political partners. I told them that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, as a Sikh, has done the nation proud. If that has upset their political partners, then I don't have anything to say. I would say the same about Dr Singh again. He is honest and a true Sikh," Vedanti told in a candid conversation. It is said Vedanti helped the prime minister in framing his speech during the trust vote, at least in the parts where he referred to Guru Gobind Singh.
To pacify the agitated officials who reportedly asked for his resignation at the instance of Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, Vedanti wrote out the resignation letter and handed it over to Bahur. "The moment they got the letter, they left. Appointments are done and cancelled, I have no quarrels. But I was pained at the manner in which it was carried out," he said. Makkar, however, denied Vedanti's claim. "We are willing to distribute copies of the resignation letter to the media to prove that it was written in his own handw," Makkar told this correspondent. Eleven out of the 13 executive committee members voted in favour of Vedanti's resignation while Karnail Singh Panjoli and Gurwinder Singh alleged that the letter was written under duress.
Vedanti has also been accused of supporting the demand for a separate homeland for Sikhs during his recent trip to the United States. "I never made such statements. You can browse newspapers in the US during that period. What I said was that wherever the Sikhs go, they carve out a separate state for themselves and our homeland has no boundaries. I still stand by that statement," Vedanti clarified.
Vedanti also came under attack for his poor handling of the Akali-Dera row and the Sant Samaj had sought his resignation. With Lok Sabha elections around the corner, Badal did not want to take any chances but wanted to keep the Sant Samaj happy.

Dhami is Dal Khalsa chief

Harchranjit Singh Dhami (55), the newly elected president of radical Sikh organisation Dal Khalsa has expressed his belief in ideological and principled politics.
Dhami, who hails from Hoshiarpur, did his MSc from DAV College, Jalandhar, in 1975. An industrialist, he had served the organisation as acting president from 2003 to 2005.
Dhami said the Dal Khalsa would follow a non-violent path to achieve its goals. However, he admitted that they had failed to transform the body into a mass-base organisation because of its hardliner image and the tendency of the people to stick to the powers that be.
Dal Khalsa criticises Badal for Jathedar Vedanti’s `ouster’
Dal Khalsa, a Sikh organisation, Wednesday criticised the ‘ousting’ of Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and accused Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family of only wanting a ‘yes man’.
‘They only want a team of yes man in Akal Takht, and if any leader tries to go against them, they just throw him out. The latest example is of unprincipled ousting of former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Joginder Singh Vedanti two days ago,’ said Kanwarpal Singh, general secretary of Dal Khalsa here Wednesday.
Vedanti resigned as Akal takht chief two days ago.
‘Badal and his son exploited Vedanti till he was of their use. Now they have elected Gurbachan Singh, the new Jathedar of Akal Takht, without consulting anyone and without any formal elections which are against the principles of Sikhism,’ claimed Singh.
Dal Khalsa demanded formulation of a proper procedure to elect the Akal Takht Jathedar.
Criticising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Dal Khalsa president Dhami said: ‘He is always helpless and always works under some pressure. He has not done even a single thing for the betterment of Sikh community in the country.’
‘Dal Khalsa is collaborating with other minority communities to formulate a policy to curb the human rights violations in the country,’ said Dhami.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Latest News from Punjab about Vedanti and Gurbachan Singh

Vedanti quits, Gurbachan Singh to be Takht Jathedar

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) that assembled here today accepted the resignation submitted by Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and appointed Giani Gurbachan Singh, head granthi of Harmandar Sahib, as president of the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs.
The meeting of the SGPC was held at Gurdwara Sri Hargobind Sahib and was presided over by Avtar Singh Makkar and attended by 13 of the 15 members. Vedanti had yesterday submitted his resignation to SGPC general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and executive member Rajinder Singh Mehta, in which he cited health reasons for resigning from the post.
The resignation was today read out by Makkar before the SGPC members and was accepted by 11 of the 13 members present during the meeting. Karnail Singh Panjoli and Gurwinder Singh raised objections against the resignation, alleging that Vedanti was being forced to resign as SAD chief Prakash Singh Badal wished so. Bhajan Kaur and Santok Singh did not attend the meeting.
Panjoli alleged that Vedanti had fallen off the good books of Badal for his having raised the demand for a separate state for the Sikhs during his recent visit to the US and for having asked Sikh MPs to support Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the N-deal issue in Parliament.
Panjoli said the manner in which Vedanti had been “forced to resign” without having been allowed time to put up his point of view was unacceptable.
Makkar told The Tribune that Vedanti had stated in his resignation that due to ill-health he was unable to continue as Akal Takht Jathedar and had requested the SGPC to appoint the next Jathedar of the Takht.
He said it had been decided to appoint Giani Gurbachan Singh as Akal Takht Jathedar and he would be sworn in on August 7 in the presence of various Sikh organisations.
He, however, refused to divulge the reasons behind Vedanti’s resignation.
Vedanti had been appointed Jathedar of Akal Takht in 2000. Recently, he came under attack from a number of Sikh organisations for his having failed to handle the Sikh-dera row with a “strong hand”.

I was forced to quit, says Vedanti

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee forced Giani Joginder Singh to resign as Jathedar Akal Takht . The resignation was accepted at a meeting of the SGPC executive committee held at Sri Hargobind Sahib, gurdwara ,Kurkushetra today.
SGPC general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and executive committee member Rajinder Singh Mehta visited the official residence of Jathedar Vedanti, here yesterday evening and sought his resignation. Jathedar Vedanti claimed both SGPC office-bearers threatened him with sack at today’s executive committee meeting if he did not step down. “I never wished to resign till tercentenary celebrations of “Gurta -Gaddi Diwas” of Guru Granth Sahib in October in Nanded Sahib (Maharashtra) but the SGPC forced me to resign”, he said. Almost all Sikh centenaries since 1999, including tercentenary of the birth of Khalsa Panth, the quadri-centenary of the foundation of Akal Takht, and 500th birth centenary of Baba Budha, were marred by controversies. The SGPC committee has made it known the Jathedar resigned on “health grounds”.
After removing Vedanti, the SGPC chief rushed to the residence of the Chief Minister at Chandigarh to apprise him about the development.
Panthic sources claimed Vedanti ,appointed by the SAD , dominated the SGPC as Jathedar on March 28, 2000 after sacking Giani Puran Singh as Jathedar, Akal Takht was the most pliable and controversial. A day after his installation as Jathedar, Akal Takht, Vedanti had revoked all controversial edicts made his predecessor Giani Puran Singh including the “excommunication” of Bibi Jagir Kaur, then SGPC chief , three Jathedars and some SGPC executive members . “He was the most controversial Jathedar ”, said Rajinder Singh Khalsa, convener Khalsa Panchayat the first to launch movement against Jathedar Vedanti in 2003 , following charges of corruption.
Vedanti had lauded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, days before Trust vote in Parliament. He had termed Manmohan Singh honest and true Sikh. Earlier, the Jathedar had irked the SAD and the SGPC for backing movement for separate state for the Sikhs , in April in Washington DC. Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC president Avtar Singh had sought his explanation for “irresponsible statement” in the USA. According to another view the SAD wanted to get rid of Vedanti to please the Sant Samaj with Lok Sabha elections in mind.
Jathedar Vedanti had not summoned Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family members during his eight years as Jathear Akal Takht.
Though the 13 out of 15 executive members had accepted the resignation of Jathedar Vedanti two members Karnail Singh Panjoli and Gurwinder Singh Shampura gave dissenting note alleging Jathedar Vedanti was removed under pressure of the RSS and the BJP and it was decided at a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the Akali Dal.
Recently Jathedar Vedanti came under attack from a number of Sikh organisations for having failed to handle the Sikh-Dera row '. The Sant Samaj , headed by Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa had sought his resignation for mishandling the Dera Sacha issue.
SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann has asked the SGPC to install Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar Akal Takht if it wanted to win over Sikh masses.

From sewadar to Akal Takht chief

Head granthi of the Golden Temple, Giani Gurbachan Singh, who has been appointed officiating Jathedar of Akal Takht, joined the SGPC as “sewadar” on February 29, 1972, at Darbar Sahib, Muktsar. In 36 years, his rise to head the temporal Sikh religious seat is indeed a remarkable achievement.
Born on April 6, 1948, in Chakk Baja village (Muktsar), the home district of the Chief Minister, Giani Gurbachan Singh is a confidant of the Badal family. Like outgoing Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and former high priest Giani Puran Singh, he is under-matriculate. Though Giani Gurbachan Singh, also a relative of Jathedar Vedanti, will be installed Jathedar on August 7, a number of Sikh organisations have criticised the SGPC and the SAD for ignoring the age-old Sikh Maryada connected with the installation.In 1996 Giani Gurbachan Singh was promoted from sewadar to granthi and katha vachak and then in 2004 head granthi of the Golden Temple.
He had been transferred from Muktsar to Dhamdhan gurdwara (Jind), Haryana, following a complaint of presenting siropa (robe of honour) to then home minister Buta Singh, during the period of his excommunication from the Sikh Panth. However, he was transferred back to Darbar Sahib after he clarified the siropa was actually presented to Joginder Singh Mann, a former Congress minister, who then handed it over to his uncle (Buta Singh).