– Vaisakhi in Pakistan: SGPC seeks passports from Sikh devotees for visas

By Sikh24 Editors

Amritsar Sahib-Panjab-India, 2 January 2018. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee has appealed the Sikhs aspirant of celebrating the Vaisakhi at Gurdwara Panja Sahib (Hasan Abdal) in Pakistan, to deposit their passports by January 10.

Notably, the Pakistan High Commission grants visa to Sikh devotees to celebrate Vaisakhi at the historic Sikh shrine Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

Speaking to Sikh24, SGPC Chief Secretary Dr Roop Singh said that the interested Sikh devotees can submit their passports by January 10 along with recommendation letter attested by the SGPC members of their constituency.

He also said that the Sikh devotees should also send photocopies of their Aadhar Card, Voter Card, passport size photos and the passport valid till October 13, 2018.

Every year, thousands of Sikh devotees attend Vaisakhi celebrations at Panja Sahib. Sikh jathas from around the world also pay homage at various other historical Gurdwaras.

Gurdwara Panja Sahib is a historical gurdwara located in Hasan Abdal, Pakistan. The shrine is considered to be particularly important as the handprint of Guru Nanak Dev Ji is imprinted on a boulder at the gurdwara here.


ANI News – Former SAD MLA elected as new SGPC President

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 29 November 2017. Gobind Singh Longowal was elected as the new Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president at a general house meeting here on Wednesday.

Longowal, who is the former Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA from Dhuri constituency, was elected at the annual general house meeting after he defeated his nearest rival Amrik Singh Shahpur of Dera Baba Nanak by securing 154 votes out of total 169 votes.

Gurbachan Singh Karmowala will be the new general secretary, Raghujit Singh senior-vice president, and Harpal Singh junior vice president.

The SGPC also passed a resolution to oppose the renaming of Delhi University’s Dyal Singh Majithia Evening College to Vande Matram Morning College.

Referred to as Parliament of the Sikhs, SGPC administers Harmandr Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar and is responsible for the management of gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh and the union territory Chandigarh.

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 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. – SGPC Condemns High Court Notice Over Harjinder Singh Dilgeer’s Excommunication

Sikh24 Editors

Anandpur Sahib-Panjab-India, 14 November 2017. Speaking with Sikh24 earlier today, SGPC President Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar clarified that the no court possessed the right to challenge the supremacy of Takht Jathedars. His words were in reference to the Punjab & Haryana High Court notice to the SGPC in relation to a petition moved by H S Dilgeer against Takht Jathedars.

Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar further said that the SGPC will lodge reply to the Court after receiving the notice.

The Punjab & Haryana High Court bench headed by Justice Rajan Gupta had issued notice to the apex Sikh body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on November 13 asking it to lodge reply till November 29 about excommunication of Sikh historian Harjinder Singh Dilgeer.

H S Dilgeer had moved a petition in the Punjab & Haryana High Court against his excommunication by the SGPC appointed Takht Jathedars. In the petition, Dilgeer had claimed that four out of the total five Takht Jathedars were not having any right to excommunicate anyone from the Sikh community.

He also said in the petition that the duty of Takht Jathedars was only to ensure proper imposition of Sikh code of conduct and they can’t address any political verdict.

H S Dilgeer was excommunicated by the SGPC appointed Takht Jathedars after Sikh intellectuals had objected over some of his articles and complaints in this concern were sent to Sri Akal Takht Sahib authorities.

Initially, Dilgeer was summoned at Sri Akal Takht Sahib but he didn’t appear before the Takht Jathedars following which he was excommunicated.

Dilgeer’s work came to prominence after he worked under the SGPC to work on a Sikh encyclopedia. He also penned a book on Sikh martyrs from the 1980s. However, very recently, his work has included much controversy, where he has targeted organizations like the Damdami Taksal and challenged its authenticity. – SGPC establishes IT department to establish contact with worldwide Sikhs

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 30 October 2017. In an attempt to establish mass contact with worldwide Sikh masses, SGPC President Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar today inaugurated the “SGPC Information Technology Wing”. The new IT department will be supervised by the already running SGPC Internet Team. SGPC employee S Jaspal Singh has been appointed as the head of the IT wing.

Speaking with Sikh24 earlier today, Professor Kirpal Singh Badungar said that the SGPC was feeling the need to convey its activities to common Sikh masses via social media from a long time. He added that the IT wing will serve the task of answering the queries from Sikh masses and conveying information about sensitive Sikh issues to them.

He told Sikh24 that the IT wing has been established on suggestions of sub-committee comprising SGPC General Secretary S Amarjit Singh Chawla, Secretary Dr Roop Singh, Professor Sukhjit Singh, Dr Manpreet Singh and Dr Kanwalvir Singh Dhindsa. He added that Professor Sukhjit Singh, Dr Manpreet Singh and Dr Kanwalvir Singh Dhindsa have been also nominated as an advisor of the new IT wing.

The Times of India – SGPC calls emergency meet ahead of electing new president

Yudhvir Rana

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 28 October 2017. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has convened an emergency meeting of its executive body ahead of its general house session and election of new president.

SGPC additional secretary D S Bedi on Friday told TOI that the executive committee would meet on 6 November to decide the date of general house session which, he said, was held on 21-day notice. The general house elects the new executive committee and the president of the SGPC.

Earlier, Kirpal Singh Badungar was elected to the post on 5 November 2016, replacing Avtar Singh Makkar.

Sources said that though it is the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD that would eventually take a call on the next president, going by the controversies over various Sikh religious issues, an experienced, non-political person could be chosen for the job.

Panthic sources informed that prior to the arrest of senior Akali leader Sucha Singh Langah in a rape case, the SAD leadership was mulling to appoint him as the SGPC president.

Some of the names making rounds earlier also included those of Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Rajinder Mehta and Amarjit Singh Chawla, said sources. “The party is on the back foot due to the Langah episode and it might consider a non-political old loyalist,” they added.

Sources are of the view that the present SGPC office-bearers had failed to resolve the Nanakshahi Calendar issue. It was during Badungar’s previous tenure as chief that the Pal Singh Purewal authored calendar was adopted by the SGPC but later various amendments were made to it despite opposition by a section of Sikhs.

Badungar came under criticism after he himself celebrated the 413th anniversary of the first installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Darbar Sahib according to the amended version of the calendar on August 24, while several other Sikh bodies celebrated the day on September 1, as set by the Nanakshahi calendar in 2003.

Similarly, the Badungar administration has not been able to curtail the activities of the parallel jathedars appointed during the tenure of former SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar, said sources. – Bhai Rajoana slams SGPC for exploiting feelings of political Sikh prisoners

Sikh24 Editors

Patiala-Panjab-India, 23 October 2017. In a three page letter shared by death row convict Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana via his foster sister Bibi Kamaldeep Kaur, Bhai Rajoana has asked the SGPC to make sincere efforts to ensure release of political Sikh prisoners.

He has asked the SGPC President and SGPC appointed Akal Takht Jathedar to stop exploiting the feelings of political Sikh prisoners by trying to condole them just with statements.

Commenting on the message of Akal Takht Jathedar addressed on Bandi Chhod Diwas, Bhai Rajoana has said that the message of Akal Takht Jathedar has become like manifesto of political parties which ultimately come out as a bundle of lies.

“Messages of Akal Takht Jathedar have become just a formal activity and on ground level they are having no impact at all,” the letter reads.

Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana is a death row convict in the assassination case of the former Chief Minister, Beant “Singh”. The apex Sikh body Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee had moved a mercy petition before the President of India in March 2012, seeking the commutation of Bhai Rajoana’s death sentence to life imprisonment.

The mercy petition is still pending before the President of India.

The Tribune – Akal Takht edict supreme: SGPC

Fatehgarh Sahib-Panjab-India, 24 October 2017. Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC president, has said anyone can follow the teachings of Gurus and celebrate Gurpurbs, but “hukamnamas” (edicts) of Akal Takht are supreme for the Sikhs; so no Sikh, including a Jathedar, can dare violate them.

His remarks come against the backdrop of RSS-affiliate Rashtriya Sikh Sangat celebrating 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh in Delhi tomorrow.

Badungar was speaking at a seminar organised at Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University here today. “Everyone should celebrate the occasion, but the RSS has a hidden agenda. The SGPC stands by Akal Takht’s 2004 edict, asking Sikhs to remain cautious of the activities of the RSS and its affiliate,” he said.

How do government appointed jathedars without jatha fit into the concept of
Guru Panth – Guru Granth ?

Answer: these jathedars of buildings do not fit in at all,
they are a direct negation of Guru’s hukam

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