Although the police have not named any suspects in Tuesday’s killing of a prominent RSS worker in Ludhiana, a top functionary of the RSS Sikh wing, Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, has said “misconceptions” about the RSS decision to observe the 350th anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh combined with a “no-longer valid” 2004 directive against RSS by Akal Takht could be behind the killing. Speaking to The Indian Express, Avtar Singh Shastri, Mahasachiv, Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, asked the Akal Takht to “end the misconception” on the 2004 directive to remove the hatred created by it.
“We have approached the Akal Takht many a time to end the misconception around the 2004 directive,” he said. On July 13, 2004, the Akal Takht issued a directive warning Sikhs about the activities of RSS and Rashtraia Sikh Sangat, which were both proactively involved in organising functions to mark the 400th anniversary of the first installation of the Guru Granth Sahib. The Akal Takht asked Sikhs not to cooperate with the RSS in any function relating to the anniversary. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh told The Indian Express that the directive issued against RSS in 2004 remained valid. However, asked if this could be the motive for the murder, the Jathedar said, “I do not know about murder and the question is not relevant.” Ravinder Gosain was shot dead outside his home Tuesday morning soon after he returned from the morning shakha.
The RSS is scheduled to hold the function to commemorate the 10 Sikh guru on October 25 in Delhi’s Talkatora stadium. Invitations have gone out to the jathedars of each of the five Takhts. The head of the SGPC has also been invited. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is likely to attend this function. Avtar Singh, national general secretary of Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, said the 2004 directive was “always misread” and that there was “always opportunity to end the unwanted hatred”.
“I am afraid that the hatred created against RSS with the misuse of directive against us could pollute mind of anyone and such hatred could be a reason behind murder of Gosain that we witnessed on Tuesday. So, there is need to clear the air on this,” he said, adding that he and his organisation had great respect for Akal Takht. Giani Gurbachan Singh said he was still asking Sikhs to remain cautious of RSS. “There are some people who may be Sikh in appearance because they have grown long beard and wear turbans. But just growing your hair doesn’t make one Sikh until one follows teachings of Guru. Sikhs should be aware of such misguiding propaganda,” he said.
“There are people who always keep doing mischievous things to hurt the spirit of Sikhism. Be it RSS or Rashtriya Sikh Sangat, they are bound to hurt Sikhism. So Sikhs should remain aware about such activities,” he said. “It is true that RSS approached Akal Takht twice to dissolve that directive. In response, Akal Takht had asked some questions from the RSS, which were never answered. I will never go on any invite by RSS and no Sikh should go,” the Jathedar said.