The Tribune – Now, ex-Hazoori Raagi opposes SGPC president’s appointment

Says the decision has hurt sentiments of Sikhs

GS Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 8 December 2017. The opposition to the SAD’s pick for the SGPC president’s post today reached Akal Takht when the Sikh Sadbhawna Dal, headed by former Hazoori Raagi of Golden Temple Bhai Baldev Singh Wadala, claimed that choosing Gobind Singh Longowal was a mistake.

Amid mild resistance, Wadala, along with his supporters, reached Akal Takht to get ‘ardas’ performed for the success of their campaign against conversion of Gurdwara Gurudongmar Sahib into a Buddhist temple in Sikkim under a political conspiracy.

Wadala said a person who had defied Akal Takht’s ‘hukumnama’ against the Dera Sirsa head could never be fit to head the apex body of the Sikhs. He said till the SGPC was made free of interference of the ‘Fakhr-e-Kaum’ family (senior Badal was conferred this title by the SGPC), nothing could be expected from it.

“A series of instances of Guru Granth Sahib’s desecration, a flip-flop over the decision of pardoning the Dera Sirsa head, inaction against sacrilege of historic gurdwaras in Sikkim and now, the appointment of Longowal have hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs across the globe.

It was the Badals who were behind all these controversies. The need of the hour is to release the ‘Panth’ from their clutches and boycott them from public platforms,” he said.

A day after his election, Longowal had to face the wrath of the United Sikh Party activists who showed black flags during his visit to Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib in Patiala.

Earlier, a Sikh activist, Baldev Singh Sirsa, had alleged that Longowal was behind the “shady” land deal between two gurdwaras in 2004 when he was an MLA. The parallel jathedars also burnt his effigies in Ajnala recently.


The Tribune – SGPC to bring dera Sikhs back into fold: Longowal

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 4 December. Newly elected SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said here today that efforts would be made to bring back “disillusioned” Sikhs who had shifted loyalties to Dera Sacha Sauda.

Expressing concern over the fallout of the clergy’s flip-flop on exonerating dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, he said: “Various controversies, especially the dera episode, have led to resentment among Sikhs.

Our endeavour would be to win over the disgruntled people and bring them back to the mainstream. We are meeting representatives of Sant Samaj and other organisations to know their opinion.”

Longowal today visited Damdami Taksal headquarters at Chowk Mehta for the first time after assuming charge. He held a closed-door meeting with Taksal head Giani Harnam Singh Khalsa. Longowal said the purpose of his visit was to keep Damdami Taksal, Sant Samaj and other organisations in the loop on key Panthic issues.

After taking over as the president, Longowal had stated that he would try to end the standoff between Khalsa and preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale.

Khalsa assured him support in the interests of the Panth. He suggested that the SGPC should take up the early release of Sikh political prisoners languishing in jails despite the completion of their sentence; seek punishment for those responsible for violating human rights post 1980 by killing innocent Sikh youth; make efforts at the national level to bring justice to victims of the 1984 riots; and resolve issues pertaining to ‘dharmi faujis’.

Earlier, Longowal paid obeisance at Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash and partook of langar. He was also presented a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) by Khalsa.

Others present included SGPC general secretary Gurbachan Singh Karmuwal, executive member Bhagwant Singh Sialka, Sant Gurmeet Singh Trilokewale, Sajjan Singh Baijuman, former Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode and SGPC member Charanjit Singh Jassowal.

SGPC chief meets Badal

Muktsar: Newly elected SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal came to meet former CM Parkash Singh Badal at his residence at Badal village here on Monday. The meeting lasted for about half an hour. Though some other SGPC members, too, were present at the residence, they were not present in the meeting, said sources.

Gent Gurdwara – Oostende

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
05 November 2017

Reciting the final verses of the Guru Granth Sahib

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
Kortrijksepoortstraat 49
B-9000 Gent – Oost-Vlaanderen

7 November 2017

Koningin Astridlaan
Northbound tram to Knokke

Koningin Astridlaan
Northbound tram to Knokke

Nieuwpoortsesteenweg – Stelplaats

Tracks to what I suppose is a tram maintenance facility

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Gent: Sint-Pieters NMBS Station – Leuven NMBS – Gent Gurdwara

Sint-Pieters NMBS Station
04 November 2017

IC train to Luik / Eupen via Leuven

Leuven NMBS
04 November 2017

Platform resurfacing still on-going

The good old 16:19 via Gent

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
05 November 2017

Reading the final verses of the Guru Granth Sahib

Reading the final verses of the Guru Granth Sahib

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
Kortrijksepoortstraat 49
B-9000 Gent – Oost-Vlaanderen

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Tribune – Members empower Sukhbir Badal to take call

GS Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 28 November 2017. On the eve of the election of the SGPC president and executive committee members, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal held a meeting with party-backed SGPC members at  here today.

The members unanimously authorised Sukhbir to take the final call on the candidates. The meeting was anchored by SAD general secretary Daljit Singh Cheema.

During the one-hour closed-door meeting, it is learnt that incumbent Kirpal Singh Badungar’s work was lauded by Sukhbir, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Cheema and others. Others present included former SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar, ex-minister Tota Singh and SAD leader Balwinder Singh Bhunder.

Insiders said Badungar could be re-appointed as his tenure had remained largely free of controversy. A sealed envelope containing the new chief’s name would be opened during the general House meeting.

Sukhbir said, “As per the tradition, the members have delegated all powers to the party head. However, the presidents and the executive body will be elected by the members.”

Four members join SAD

Chandigarh: Four SGPC members, who were reportedly with the Sukhdev Singh Bhaur group, joined the SAD on Tuesday, Baba Gurmeet Singh Tirlokewala Haryana, Indermohan Singh Lakhvirwala, Surjit Singh Garhi and Nirmal Singh Johlan. The last two owed allegiance to AAP.

House composition

The SGPC General House comprises 190 members, including five Takht Jathedars (they don’t have voting rights). Of these, 170 members are elected from constituencies in Punjab, Haryana and HP. The existing body has 157 SAD-backed members.

The Times of India – Hectic lobbying for SGPC president’s post

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 26 November 2017. Hectic lobbying is on for the post of the 42nd president of Sikhs’ single largest representative body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the election for which is scheduled to be held on November 29.

Incumbent Kirpal Singh Badungar, Avtar Singh Makkar and Jagir Kaur, both former presidents of SGPC, religio-political leader Balbir Singh Ghunas, former minister Tota Singh and former MP Sewa Singh Sekhwan are considered to be in race for the top post.

The key to the post lies with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Sources in the party told TOI that both Makkar and Badungar had developed strained relations at one point of their tenure as SGPC presidents with the top leadership of Akali Dal.

Insiders say that the party is interested in some religious personality who could coordinate well with the jathedars of Takhts, temporal seats of Sikhs. Sources informed that party could seriously consider Ghunas, who belongs to Mastuana Sampardaya, and is a staunch politician and head of a prominent gurdwara.

At the same time, Tota and Sekhwan have a long political career and could help SAD make its grip stronger on Panthic votes and help the party in the next assembly elections in 2022.

Meanwhile, Sehajdhari Sikh Party (SSP) president Paramjit Singh Ranu alleged that election of SGPC president was being held in violation of the Supreme Court (SC) judgment and the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

“According to SC judgment, the term of SGPC got over in December 2016. Instead of calling for fresh elections to the general house to be organized by the Union home ministry, the SGPC is going to elect its new president. This is illegal and unconstitutional,” he said.

The SGPC general house was elected in September 2011, and its term as per Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, was for five years and thus ended in December 2016, said Ranu.

“Due to pendency of the voting rights issue in the SC, the elected house became defunct and a 15-member executive committee of the SGPC headed by its former president Avtar Singh Makkar was allowed by the court to work as caretaker,” he said.

He said the NDA government at the Centre amended the Sikh Gurdwara Act in May 2016, debarring the Sehajdharis to vote in the SGPC elections. SSP had challenged the amendment in Punjab and Haryana high court.

“Already another petition is pending in the court where the Union government has filed a reply that they have started the process for election to the general house. Then why is it allowing the SGPC to hold its presidential election now,” asked Ranu.

The Tribune – Former SGPC general secretary backs sacked staffers

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, 26 November 2017. Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, a former general secretary of the SGPC, today expressed solidarity with the sacked employees of Gurdwara Gurusar Madoke Brar at Ajnala in Amritsar district.

Though not agreeing to their way of contest, Bhaur, now an SGPC member, has assured them that he would fight for their cause.

“The Sikh religion has high esteem and values. Just for the sake of job, deserting it is not recommendable. I assure them that we will raise their voice and if need be, we will not refrain from seeking legal assistance against the SGPC,” he said.

Dalbir Singh, an affected employee, said: “We have full faith in Bhaur’s assurance. He took a stand for us and we are bound to listen to him. But we want our jobs back. We are in touch with him. We will declare our final course of action tomorrow.” – Sikh temple [Gurdwara] promotes religious tolerance during prophet’s [Guru’s] martyrdom day

Taylor Utzig

Rockford-Illinois-USA, 27 November 2017. One local temple [Gurdwara] is promoting peace and tolerance this weekend.

Sunday marks the martyrdom day of the ninth prophet [Guru] of the Sikh religion.

According to the the Sikh faith, the prophet gave his life to stand-up for Hindus, who were being persecuted in India 300 years ago.

Today, people say his message of tolerance is just as important as these two faiths come to worship together.

“They believe in different faiths. They come into one place to worship, one temple, with peace like brothers and sisters and like one family,” said President of Rockford’s Sikh Temple [Gurdwara] Baba Ji.

It’s also a message the Sikh temple [Gurdwara] says it wants to remind other religions of in the light of tensions in today’s society.

Nanaksar Sikh Temple [Gurdwara]
714 3rd street
Rockford, Illinois

The Hindustan Times – SAD considering Tota Singh, Ghunas for SGPC chief’s post

The annual meeting to elect the SGPC president is scheduled for November 29.

Gurpreet Singh Nibber

Chandigarh-Panjab-India, 24 November 2017. In its search for a suitable leader to head the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is now considering names of Tota Singh and Sant Balbir Singh Ghunas.

The SAD has a majority in the General House of the cash-rich body, in which 170 members come through elections. The annual meeting to elect the SGPC president is scheduled for November 29.

Former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur and Akali leaders Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Rajinder Singh Mehta and Amarjeet Singh Chawla are already vying for the top post, but the party is not very keen to give any of them the coveted post, sources said.

Meanwhile, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has already started meeting SGPC members to discuss with them the issues related to the functioning of the gurdwara body, and also who will be the right choice to head it.

On Thursday, Sukhbir held a meeting in Chandigarh with at least 80 SGPC members from 11 districts of Punjab, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh. He will meet the remaining members on Friday, followed by a meeting with the core committee members of SAD and party MLAs.

The party is looking for a rural face, who can handle the core job of SGPC with religio-political finesse and run the body with focus on management of gurdwaras and ‘dharam parchar’ (religious propaganda). They want the Sikh clergy and various ‘sampardays’ (sects) work in coordination with the committee.

The SAD is seen as lacking in handling of certain Panthic issues after the era of Gurcharan Singh Tohra as SGPC president. Also, after a series of sacrilege incidents two years ago, the party is losing grip over its Panthic constituency and looking for resurgence via the SGPC.

Tota a Taksali Akali

Tota Singh, 75, known as a Taksali Akali in Sikh politics, had twice served as cabinet minister under Parkash Singh Badal government after the SAD came to power in Punjab in 1997 and 2012. At present, he is senior vice-president of SAD and is among the few old-timers in the party.

He has also worked as senior vice-president and general secretary of SGPC under Tohra’s tenure.

Besides, he wields influence among the Sikh diaspora in various foreign countries, particularly Canada. However, Tota Singh was convicted in a case of misuse of official car while being a minister. Also, the party is wary that he may not be able to handle the ticklish issues concerning SGPC.

Ex-MLA Ghunas heads Mastuana ‘samparday’

Sant Balvir Singh Ghunas, 60, is another name that party is considering to head SGPC, who is a three-time former MLA and also member of SGPC. He is associated with Mastuana ‘samparday’ and is head of Gurdwara Gursagar Sahib, Mastuana, in Sangrur district. However, Ghunas never held any important portfolio in the party or the SGPC.

Taking feedback says Sukhbir Badal

“I am meeting all SGPC members to take a feedback. So far, we have not finalised any name. At this juncture, I can’t comment on the probable candidate,” Sukhbir told HT. One of his close aides said incumbent chief Kirpal Singh Badungar is also trying for a second term.

Sources said former SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar from whom Badungar took over last year is also lobbying for the post. He recently met SAD patron and former CM Parkash Singh Badal in this regard.

ANI News – Sikhs observe martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 23 November 2017. Sikhs across the world on Thursday observed the 342nd martyrdom day of their Ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur.

Thousands of devotees thronged the Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib] in Amritsar to offer their prayers and remember the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur.

Guru Tegh Bahadur sacrificed his life while resisting the forced conversions of Kashmiri Pandits and non-Muslims to Islam. He was executed on the orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1675.

Speaking about the importance of the day, Giani Puran Singh Granthi briefed about the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur and events surrounding it. Giani is a salutation in Sikhism and it is given to Sikh priests.

“For saving the Hindu religion*, for safeguarding Tilak (sacred mark applied by Hindus) and Janeu (the Brahminical thread), Guru Tegh Bahadur arrived in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk (for his martyrdom). Bhai Dyala, Bhai Mati Das, and Bhai Sati Das also sacrificed their lives while opposing Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s oppression,” Giani Puran Singh said.

A devotee said, “Today is the martyrdom day of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. It is being observed in Amritsar and at Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj (the places where the Guru was martyred and cremated in Delhi), and at all Gurdwaras across the world.”

Guru Tegh Bahadur was a merciful saviour of the weak, and that is what he preached. He taught his disciples to protect the ones who need protection, even if it comes at the cost of one’s own life.

Guru Tegh Bahadur contributed many hymns to Granth Sahib including the Saloks, or couplets near the end of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Sikh scripture.

Guru Tegh Bahadur travelled extensively in different parts of the country, including Dhaka and Assam, to preach the teachings of Nanak, the first Sikh guru. The places he visited and stayed in, became sites of Sikh temples (Gurudwaras). (ANI)

* The Gurus were not pro-Hindu and anti-Islam, they were pro-religious freedom and anti-oppression – Man in Blue