CHANDIGARH, India: Five Head Priests have summoned Punjab Chief Minister, Surjit Singh Barnala to appear before them on Wednesday to explain his conduct in not complying with edict issued by them. Mr. Barnala is charged with disobeying the mandatory edict from the Highest Sikh religious authority which amounts to a serious religious offence and can be punished with excommunication from the religion.

Meanwhile, the working committee members of the ruling Akali Dal faction and Cabinet colleagues of Barnala have jointly appealed to Barnala not to present himself before the High Priests. Mr. Barnala finds himself in a quandary as submitting to the edict of the Five Priests would earn him the anger of the Central government which would surely mean his dismissal and not presenting himself before the High Priests could result in his excommunication from the religion. The appeal by his colleagues and party functionaries is designed to shift the responsibility from Barnala’s shoulders alone to the collective responsibility of the ruling coterie. But in the context of an edict from the highest religious authority, the appeal from the ruling coterie has no meaning. For a Sikh there is no temporal authority higher than the Five Head Priests and as a Sikh Barnala cannot escape or avoid this reality.

As the scene in the Punjab political arena is growing increasingly muddier. The incident of violence has further vitiated it.

A magistrate was shot dead in his court at Moga and a Deputy Superintendent of Police was killed near Amritsar on Sunday. A Sikh Youngman was beaten to death by some laborers who suspected him to be a freedom fighter. Police claimed that a person allegedly involved in the killing of bus passengers in Hoshiarpur district has been arrested.

On Monday some unknown gunmen shot dead the doctor, son of an Inspector General of Police at Patiala.






Article extracted from this publication >>  February 13, 1987