The new president of the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) Gobind Singh Longowal was sentenced and punished for violating the Sikh code of edicts by Akal Takht earlier this year after he was found to have canvassed votes from Dera Sacha Sauda during the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections.
The Akal Takht declared him ‘Tankhahia’, and though it does not make him ineligible for a post in SGPC, it is a badge that no Sikh wants to wear.
Two days before voting, Dera Sacha Sauda had announced support for Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) candidates. It was an SGPC committee that probed, on the Akla Takht’s orders, how many Sikh politicians had asked Dera Sacha Sauda for votes during the elections. The three-member SGPC committee had submitted a list of 44 such politicians to Akal Takht. Longowal, who contested from Sunam constituency on a SAD ticket but lost the election, was in that list.
Dera Sacha Sauda members are not considered Sikhs by the Akal Takht.
Longowal was sentenced and asked to clean the heritage road leading to Golden Temple and also perform volunteer services like cleaning utensils, shoes and the floor inside Golden Temple for one day. He was also asked to organise Akhand Path of Guru Granth Sahib to seek apology. He was paraded in front of Akal Takht on April 17 earlier this year along with other accused Sikh politicians.
Asked about this by The Indian Express, Gobind Singh Longowal flatly denied he was sentenced by Akal Takht. “I never went to Dera Sacha Sauda to seek votes. I was summoned by Akal Takht but I had given it in writing that I never asked votes from Dera Sacha Sauda. I was never sentenced by Akal Takht.”
However, his name was in the Akal Takht press note issued to name politicians sentenced for seeking votes from Dera Sacha Sauda. He had also performed volunteer’s service along with other politicians in a group activity to seek apology from Akal Takht.