A day after Namdhari sect matriarch and the widow of former sect head Satguru Jagjit Singh was gunned down, many followers on Tuesday blamed a “third party”, which purportedly wants the family running the sect to stay divided, for the murder.
Chand Kaur, 88, was shot by two unidentified assailants on a motorcycle outside Bhaini Sahib, the headquarters of Namdhari sect near Ludhiana, on Monday morning.
On Tuesday, there was a sea of supporters, clad in traditional white Namdhari attire, at Bhaini Sahib for Chand Kaur’s cremation, attended, among others, by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu.
Kaur’s grandson Jai Singh (son of the matriarch’s daughter, Sahib Kaur) and Uttam Singh, son of present sect chief Thakur Uday Singh, lit the pyre.
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Following Kaur’s death, a section of supporters of Uday Singh had alleged that his brother Dalip Singh could be behind the conspiracy — the brothers are Kaur’s nephews — and a group of protesters demanded his arrest.
A bitter succession war had begun in the sect after Jagjit Singh’s death in 2012. Chand Kaur backed Uday Singh to take over the reins from her late husband, while Dalip Singh wanted Kaur to be the satguru. Dalip Singh, who leads the sect’s dera in Jagjivan Nagar, in Sirsa district of Haryana, stands barred from entering the Namdharis’ Bhaini Sahib headquarters. Several cases have been filed by followers of the brothers against the other group over the years.
While a bhog ceremony for Chand Kaur, held as part of the funeral ceremony, will be organised at Bhaini Sahib on Sunday, Dalip Singh’s dera in Haryana will have a separate bhog a day before — on Saturday.
On Tuesday, many followers at Bhaini Sahib called Chand Kaur’s murder a “third-party conspiracy” to polarise the sect and an attempt to widen the rift between Dalip Singh and Uday Singh. Several supporters claimed that more than a succession war, this has now become a “war among their people do want the family to unite”.
Besides the succession issue, there is a huge financial empire at stake as well. The sect owns acres of land, schools, hospitals and other businesses across the country — all run in the name of Satguru Partap Singh, father of Jagjit Singh. Many Namdhari followers believe this, too, could be a possible reason for the murder.
Dalip Singh said: “My mother had no enemies — she was the peacemaker in this family. I wanted her to be on gaddi (be the sect chief) because if I had accepted it, the family would have been divided…for me, she will always be our satguru. How can I even think of getting our satguru murdered?”
About organising a separate bhog ceremony, Dalip Singh said, “I knew I will not be allowed to attend the last rites, or bhog (at Bhaini Sahib), and I do not want to enter forcibly and create a scene. So we will hold bhog on April 9 (Saturday).”