The ardasiya (prayer reciter), who was transferred to Macchiwara gurdwara on Friday for refusing to honour Punjab CM Parkash Badal with a siropa (robe of honour) at the Golden Temple, has now refused to discharge duties at his new place of posting.
Ardasiyas Balbir Singh and Gurcharan Singh were transferred by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to the gurdwaras managed by it at Macchiwara and Sangrur, respectively.
In another development, the Akal Takht Panj Pyare, who were dismissed by the SGPC for summoning Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh in connection with a pardon to Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, have decided to honour Balbir Singh for his stance.
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“We hail what he (Balbir Singh) has done. We will honour him before June 10 at a function in Amritsar,” Satnam Singh, one of the Panj Pyaras, told The Sunday Express on Saturday. “They say that Badal is a Panthic personality and was conferred with title of Fakhr-e-Qaum. SGPC and Akal Takht are controlled by Akali Dal only. They can confer any title as per their whims. There should be a committee of intellectuals at Akal Takht to decide on awarding such titles,” said Satnam Singh.
Balbir Singh on Saturday maintained that he did no wrong. “I have worked here (The Golden temple) all my life. I have done no wrong. This is no personal grudge. I refused the siropa only because of the government inaction in the desecration incidents last year. I am not going to join at Macchiwara.”
The SGPC has given Balbir Singh 10-days’ time to report to duty at Macchiwara.
“In case he (Balbir Singh) does not report to duty at Macchiwara, further action as per SGPC rules will follow. In case of non-compliance, he will be dismissed,” said Avtar Singh Makkar, SGPC president. “Indiscipline will not be tolerated at any cost.”
Balbir Singh, however, said that such threats did not bother him. He said he had even thought of resigning, but decided against it “in the light of Sikh history”.
“For a moment I had thought about it (resigning), but I cannot tender a resignation which would be equivalent to a bedawa (a memorandum by a group of Sikhs to Guru Gobind Singh ahead of Battle of Muktsar in 1705 which was later torn by Guru). I will wait for SGPC’s decision,” Balbir said.
On January 20, Balbir had denied a siropa to Shiromani Akali Dal president and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal on similar grounds. After that incident, the SGPC had changed his duty hours.
This, according to the Golden Temple head priest Jagtar Singh, was mild. “He should have been transferred. Instead, the SGPC’s action was merely to ensure that he wasn’t visible when the telecast from inside the sanctum sanctorum was live on TV channels,” Singh told The Sunday Express. “The latest controversy could have been avoided.”
Jagtar Singh defended Gurcharan Singh. “I was informed that the CM would arrive at the Golden Temple at 9 am. According, I asked Gurcharan Singh to offer the Siropa. But the CM arrived at 10.30am. By that time Gurcharan’s shift was over. I have asked the SGPC president to not transfer him and he has promised to look into the matter.”
Balbir said that the CM’s arrival was not communicated to him. “When I saw him, I only offered parsad as offered to other devotees,” said Balbir.
Meanwhile, reacting to Akali leader Virsa Singh Valtoha’s remarks that it was a “dollar game”, Balbir Singh said, “My action is solely related to religion and government inaction in desecration cases. I am committed to Guru Granth Sahib.”