Hundreds of followers of the Nirankari sect gathered at the Foundation’s headquarters near Burari Friday to grieve for their leader Baba Hardev Singh, who was killed in a car crash in Canada.
Many struggled to hold back tears as they participated in prayers held in memory of the 62-year-old religious leader throughout the day.
“We received formal news of Baba Nirankari Hardev Singh’s death from the Canadian authorities. We made a formal announcement at our Delhi headquarters at noon. We sent out word to our followers to abstain from congregating at the headquarters,” said Kripa Sagar, a member of the Nirankari Charitable Foundation.
The Sant Nirankari Movement was launched as a socio-religious and charitable mission by Baba Buta Singh in 1929. Today, it has nearly 2,000 centres and lakhs of followers across the world. In 1980, then sect chief Satguru Gurbachan Singh was assassinated by a Sikh extremist at the Foundation’s headquarters in Delhi. After his death, Singh’s son Hardev was nominated as the fourth satguru.
Most of the Nirankaris in Delhi belong to Sikh families displaced by Partition in 1947.
“We are peace-loving people. We have no political affiliations. We believe all human beings are equal,” said Sulekh Sathi, a retired Delhi government official and a follower of the sect. “The sect has no bandhan (constraints) and no strict rules. Anyone can join and do sewa (service of others) and feel at peace,” said Nisha Thakur, another follower.
It is not clear who will succeed Baba Hardev Singh but followers of the sect said the late leader must have made some arrangements in this regard.
“Right now, we just want to pray so that Babaji’s soul rests in peace. There is no question of succession at this time,” said Mohan Singh, a devotee.