Punjab govt doesn't want Sarbat Khalsa at Talwandi Sabo: What is Badal scared of?

Rajeev Khanna @CatchNews | Updated on: 8 November 2016, 11:42 IST
Punjab govt doesn't want Sarbat Khalsa at Talwandi Sabo
Punjab govt doesn't want Sarbat Khalsa at Talwandi Sabo (Arya Sharma/Catch News)

The Parkash Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP combine government in the state does not want the Sarbat Khalsa congregation called for by certain Sikh groups at Talwandi Sabo on 10 November. The government has ordered a crackdown that has resulted in arrests of scores of people ahead of the event.

The current Sarbat Khalsa congregation comes a year after the massive convergence of masses in Chhaba village on Amritsar-Tarn Taran Road last year where the prime issue discussed was the desecration of holy texts.

The question doing the rounds in Punjab is that what are Badal and the Akalis so scared of that they do not want to allow the congregation to take place. Post their crackdown, the organisers are looking at a legal recourse to aid the congregation.

The call for the congregation had been given at the Baisakhi Mela at Talwandi Sabo earlier this year and organisers are pointing out that it should not matter as to who made the call - the hardliners or the moderates.

The issue being debated is why should the government stop a congregation if it is peaceful and the organisers just want the masses to come together to discuss certain issues related to the poll-bound state in general and the community in particular?

Those supporting the crackdown say that technically it is only the Akal Takht that can call a Sarbat Khalsa (a congregation representative of various groups of Sikhs). But the liberal elements say that the nomenclature of the event hardly matters. What matters is the democratic right of any group to call for a congregation to discuss any matter as long as they do so peacefully.

Matter of beliefs

Last year's congregation had seen the Sikh hardliners appointing Jagtar Singh Hawara, convicted for the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh, as the new Akal Takht jathedar. This was a parallel appointment in place of Gurbachan Singh.

The hardliners had also appointed Amrik Singh Ajnala and Baljit Singh Daduwal as heads of Takht Keshgarh Sahib and Takht Damdama Sahib, respectively.

Since Hawara is in jail, former MP Dhian Singh Mand was asked to officiate in absentia for Hawara.

Observers say that the parallel appointments were reflective of the public sentiment over continuing instances of desecration of holy books across the state and the failure of the government to do anything about it.

Discontent in the masses

The masses were agitated over the complete hold of the SAD (Badal) over the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabankhak Committee (SGPC) that had refused permission to organise the congregation at Manji Sahib Gurudwara at Golden Temple complex in Amritsar.

Reports say that more than one lakh people had congregated at the alternative venue of Chhaba village last year where not only a parallel Jathedar was appointed but Badal was stripped off the 'Panth Rattan - Fakhr-e-qaum' honour bestowed on him in 2011.