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Panthic bodies flay Vedanti for ‘secret meeting’

Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 24

The “secret meeting†between Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and senior BJP leaders in the presence of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) supremo Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, here yesterday has evoked strong reactions in the Sikh circles. Rival Panthic factions, including Dal Khalsa, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, have convened an emergency meeting on July 26 at Chandigarh to discuss the matter.

However, Jathedar Vedanti pleaded that he was not aware of the fact that Mr Badal would be bringing Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, a member of Parliament, and Mr R.P. Singh, a close confidant of BJP president Rajnath Singh for the meeting.

When contacted, Mr Daljit Singh Bedi, assistant secretary and in charge of the publicity wing, said the SGPC had no intention to issue a clarification about the “secret meeting.†Though the SGPC chief was present in the city, yet he did not come forward to give any clarification on the issue.

Maj R.S. Gill , media adviser to Mr Sidhu, also refused to issue any clarification on his behalf.

The Dal Khalsa took Mr Badal to task for “arranging†a meeting between the Akal Takht Jathedar and BJP leaders. In a hard-hitting statement, party spokesman, Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, said it was pity that Mr Badal was paving way for the RSS to make inroads into the Sikh fold.

The SGPC chief, Mr Avtar Singh, who was also present in the meeting, also came in for a sharp criticism from the Dal Khalsa. Justifying the ban imposed by Akal Takht on the Rahstriya Sikh Sangat, an offshoot of the RSS, Mr Kanwarpal Singh said there was no point in trusting the RSS time and again.

Meanwhile, Mr Jagmohan Singh Tony, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar ), in an open letter to Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, warned him for meddling in the affairs of Sikhs.

The open letter reads, “of late, in cohorts with Mr Badal, you have started meddling in the religious affairs of the Sikhs. I have no hesitation in saying that you are not qualified to indulge in Panthic affairs. To accompany a Rashtriya Sikh Sangat activist, Mr R. P. Singh, in a surreptitious effort to pressurise the Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib to withdraw the edict against the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, is totally unacceptable. We will not tolerate your nefarious designs.â€

The Sikh clergy was already under heavy attack from the Panthic organisations for announcing exemption to all excommunicated persons from undergoing “tankhah†(punishment for religious misconduct) by January 13 next.

The move is being viewed as “unprecedented†in the 400 years of the history of Akal Takht. Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, Akal Takht, announced that the move was unacceptable to the Sikh Panth and asked them to be ready for the dire consequences.

Mr Ritender Singh and Mr Amarjit Singh, leaders of Gursikh and Shehbaz Khalsa, equated Jathedar Vedanti with “Aroor Singh,†who had honoured Gen Dyer at Akal Takht after the Jallianwala massacre.

They said the Sikh Panth would not tolerate rejoining of the excommunicated Pyara Singh Bhaniara, Gurbax Singh Kala Afghana and others without undergoing “tankhah.â€

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