Amritsar — The sudden collapse of the decorative awning on the top of the Akal Takht here on Monday evening adds yet another new twist to the convoluted situation existing in Akali_ politics today.

In the light of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak committee (SGPC) chief Mr. Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s fiery statement on April 22 that the ‘‘sarkari’’ Takht will be pulled down and a new one acceptable to the panth, erected through “kar seva’’ and donations by pious Sikhs as the fallen part has become a symbol of ecclesiastical displeasure.

The belief here amongest both educated and illiterate Sikhs is that the corner awning facing Thada Sahib Gurdwara fell because the ‘“‘“Government constructed’? Akal Takht had incurred the displeasure of Guru Hargobind; the sixth Sikh Guru, responsible for constructing the Takht in 1606.


The affected awning was built over 200 years later in 1846 by Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s son, Raja Sher Singh.

The miraculous escape of a six year old boy playing under the awning is also attributed to Guru Hargobind. Ruling out any sabotage, the deputy commissioner Mr. Ramesh Inder Singh said an inquiry will be conducted into the collapse.

Mr. Gurcharan Singh Tohra who returned to the Golden Temple complex on Monday; minutes before the accident occurred at 5:45 p.m. said the decision to demolish the Akal Takht or not would be taken at a meeting of the SGPC scheduled in Amritsar on May 11.

Significantly, Mr. Tohra left with Baba Kharak Singh, organizer of all ‘“‘kar sevas”’ undertaken in the Golden Temple for many decades. The SGPC spokesman, Mr. Abhnashi Singh on Tuesday said Mr. Tohra would return to his village after conferring with the octogenarian religious leader.

The Akal Takht, the Eternal Throne, inside which Bhindranwale and his men offered fierce resistance to the security forces during Operation Bluestar last June, was substantially damaged by cannon fire. Soon after the government mobilized all its resources and rebuilt the Takht using Baba Santa Singh, a Nihang chief as a cover. The temple complex along with the restored Takht was handed over to the SGPC on September 29 last year.

Devotees visiting the Temple flock to the debris which continues to lie where they fell on Monday evening. A majority surrounding the fallen portion three feet long and two wide were of the opinion on Tuesday that the Takht should be’ demolished and reconstructed by devout Sikhs.

Against a backdrop of intrigue reigning inside the Akali Dal, the issue of rebuilding the Akal Takht is now likely to acquire serious dimensions. Earlier the number of Sikhs including some leaders discounted Mr. Tohra’s statements made in a flush of enthusiasm and bravado. Others were of the opinion that to vindicate his statements a symbolic demolition of the Takht would be carried out either by scrapping off the gold leaf or some similar tactic.

However now the falling of the slab seems to have somehow legitimized Mr. Tohra’s call for demolition of the Takht in the eyes of a large number of Sikhs. Playing a pivotal role in the current crisis enveloping the Akali Dal Mr.Tohra may for shortterm gains cash in on people’s feelings and plead for the demolition of the Takht. Should this decision be carried through both the SGPC and the Akali Dal meetings, the state of Punjab is in for trying times.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 24, 1985