The row over the appointment of Takht Hazur Sahib Nanded Board president has put the focus on the activities of RSS-affiliate Rashtriya Sikh Sangat.
While a 2004 Akal Takht decree had “warned” the community against the Sikh Sangat, opponents of the Akali Dal-ruled SGPC have been accusing the body going soft on the Sikh Sangat.
Intensifying its activities after the formation of the BJP government at the Centre, the Sikh Sangat has been vocal on the issues of Sikh prisoners, blacklisted Sikhs, 1984 anti-Sikh riots and many issues where earlier only the SGPC was the advocate.
It raised many of these issues with offices of the Home Minister, the PM and the President.
In fact, despite the Akal Takht decree being in force, Sikh Sangat president Gurcharan Singh Gill was part of a 2014 meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue of Sikh prisioners that was attended by then Takht Kesgarh Sahib Jathedar late Giani Mal Singh, Damdami Taksal incmubent head Harman Singh Dhuma and now BJP MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa.
Talking to The Indian Express, Gill said, “We were instrumental in making SIT functional which was formed to probe 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases in 2015. There were some technical problems with the SIT and we approached office of the President to solve such issues and this resulted in conviction of Sajjan Kumar. We still have been working with Union government on the issue of compensation to the riot victims. We urged Centre to abolish the black list of Sikhs and the government almost abolished it. There is issue of Sikh Kirpan at airports and we are in final negotiations with Union Civil Aviation Minister to solve it soon. We convinced the Union government to open Kartarpur corridor despite security issues related with it. We made Maharashtra government waive of debt on Takht Patna Sahib management board. Now we have huge plans for the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji. There is long list of Sikh issues which have been worked out by Sikh Sangat.”
Asked about the activities of the Sikh Sangat, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said: “It is good if Sikh Sangat wants to extend support to issues. But we will not allow them to control our gurdwaras and intervene in our internal affairs.”
Recently Sikh Sangat had claimed credit for the event where Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued the commemorative coin of Guru Gobind Singh.
“It was first time when 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh was celebrated in the Governor Houses of 13 states and Chief Minister residents in nine states. We even celebrated it in tribal areas where nobody knows about Sikhism,” said Gill.
‘Ready to appear before Akal Takht’
Speaking about the Akal Takht’s 2004 decree, Sikh Sangat president Gurcharan Singh Gill has said that he is ready to appear before it and face religious punishment.
“There was a statement issued by Akal Takht regarding a Yatra planned by us in 2004. It was not about RSS or Sikh Sangat. We had submitted our clarification and it was also accepted by an Akal Takhat jathedar but then there are forces which have political motives and they do not want this issue to be resolved completely,” he said.
Gill added: “I am a baptized sikh and I am ready to appear before Akal Takht on the behalf of Sikh Sangat if there is any issue or mistake committed by us. They can pronounce religious punishment to me as there is set procedure. RSS too has great respect for Sikh gurus. RSS has repeatedly displayed its love and affection for Sikh gurus. But there are some people who have political interests and they do not want issues, to be resolved.”