If we have to steer clear of the present tragic situation facing the Khalsa Panth, we have to be very vigilant about our leadership.
Unless our leaders are selfless, intelligent and their honesty above board we are again liable to fall into deeper tragedies than even the present one. It is in this light that we have to analyses the role played by the present Sikh leadership. Just before Dewali of 1983, Sant Harchand Singh, Longowal, the President of Akali Dal circulated a 4 page pamphlet entitled ‘Impious Conspiracy’ in which he warned the Panth of the impending catastrophy. He wrote: “I invite the attention of all Sangat to a newly hatched conspiracy under which the Govt. is bent upon desecrating the sanctity of Darbar Sahib. Shromani Akali Dal has already made it clear that if the army or the police attacks Darbar Sahib, they will do so by trampling over the walls and lines of Sikh martyrs. Darbar Sahib is our soul, our heart, our heartbeat, our Kaaba, our home. Tell people who want to destroy Darbar Sahib in five minutes by employing helicopters, that such thinking will indeed destroy: the country and none will be safe.’’ In the end he exhorted the Sangat visiting the Golden Temple on the occasion of Dewali, with the words: “‘Please entrench into hearts the following words of Bhai Mani Singh which he uttered at the time of his martyrdom this would be the fruit of your DarshanIshnan; “Of what value is the poor body, if my Sikh Spirit remains steady, Human body is born and dies but who would get back Sikh Faith if lost?”’ Before this, in May 1983 issue of Gurdwara Gazette, the official organ of SGPC, Bhan Singh, the secretary of SGPC, wrote in its editorial, “We warn the Govt. that even by mistake, if they would make an attempt to desecrate the sanctity of Darbar Sahib, they would only do it over our dead bodies and they would be responsible for the serious consequences thereof.”
Months before the actual entry of the army into the Golden Temple complex, the police had ‘SGPC officials. Surrounded its precincts and from all the apparent moves of the Govt. it was becoming clear that an attack was imminent. But what plans did SGPC or Akali Dal make to meet the ‘‘impious conspiracy’? Where were the leaders of Akali Dal and officials of SGPC when Sikh Sangat had thronged the Darbar Sahib to celebrate Guru Arjan’s Martyrdom Day and simultaneously the army attack started?
‘India Today’ of 6/30/84 wrote: hasty consultations got underway in the serais where moderate Akali leaders like Longowal, Tohra and Dal’s official spokesman Balwant Singh Ramoowalia were hiding .’’ As darkness engulfed the complex 40 commandos, carrying sleek American 5.6 mm rifles. slipped into the serais on a mission that could mean death for each of them. Their brief was clear to bring out the moderates safely “They had managed to extricate Longowal, Tohra, Ramoowalia .including senior the authorities whisked away the Akali leaders to Raja Sansi Cantonment.”’ Had the leaders been true to their words they should have planned nonviolent resistance as was practiced during Akali Gurdwara Movement of early twenties. But their own lives were more precious than Darbar Sahib or Akal Takht.
Here is another part of the story from a different source but which fits into the above pattern. Rajinger Singh Bhatia, editor Quami Ekta, Delhi, who is also a prominent Akali and who enjoys the confidence of Longowal, since he was sent by him to USA for organizing Akali Dal in this country, in an article in Quami Samachar describes details of parleys between Tohra, President SGPC and Govt. of India and Punjab officials in which he bargained away the essentials of Sikh demands for amending Article 25 of Indian Constitution and promise of power for Tohra in the State Govt. Also, whereas Longowal succumbed to the lure of future power, Bhindranwale rejected the proposal. Finally Tohra conveyed to the Panjab Governor and through him Indira Gandhi that things were beyond him and the Govt. may do as they like, since Bhindranwale was the main obstacle in the way. The Govt., then, clearly stated that in that case entry of army was the only way to remove the obstacle. Orders were then issued that the needful may be done if any message was received from Tohra. Accordingly, when General Brar received Tohra’s message for safe passage, the army moved in.
In fact in order to remove Sant Bhindranwale out of their way, there was a serious plot designed by Akali leadership, the details of which Sant Bhindranwale gave in his speech at Akal Takht in May 1984, which have been recorded in one of his tapes. The plot, in brief, was to kill Bhindrawale and his three associates. Gurcharan Singh, Secretary Akali Dal paid eight thousand rupees to Baljit Kaur and her two associates to kill Bhindranwale and his three associates. The group, however, could kill only Surrinder Singh Sodhi. Simultaneously a campaign of vilification in the press and through leaflets against Bhindranwale to the effect that he was procongress and was working against the interest of Sikhs was let loose. He was accused of violating Sikh rites by offering Ardas at Akal Takht on the occasion of betrothel ceremony of Hermander Singh Sandhu, an amritdhari Sikh. The accusation was false. On the other hand Bhindranwale pointed out that Kirpal Singh, Jathedar Akal Takht, presided over the marriage ceremony of Badal’s daughter with the grandson of Partap Singh Kairon, both the girl and the boy being nonamritdharis; and Sahib Singh head Granthi of Darbar Sahib carried out wedding rites of the clean shaven son of Jaswinder Singh Brar.
The role played by Kirpal Singh and Sahib Singh subsequent to the storming of Akal Takht and their attitude towards Bhindranwale and persons of his way of thinking can be well understood in the above context. Kirpal Singh read Govt. prepared statement on Indian Ty. It is said he was forced to do it at the gun point. This may be so, but do we expect it from the Jathedar of Akal Takht who is considered to be Sikh #1. His conduct is a slur on the name of Sikh Panth. Where was he when the Akal Takht was being stormed? He fled away to save his skin. He is unworthy of the high position he holds. He should have given up the position in utter shame. Sahib Singh’s role is also shameful, as the Head Granthi of Darbar Sahib; he received the two major culprits, Zail Singh and Indira Gandhi whose crime against Sikh Panth is unpardonable. While describing the havoc done to the Golden Temple complex he states: “When the President came I told him that he had grown up under the watchful eyes of the Gurus and now Guru Granth Sahib did not have even silken coverings. He promptly sent some by the next flight.” Why this praise for Zail Singh whose hands are red with the blood of Sikhs? Couldn’t he bring coverings from home or from the stores? This praise was not accidental. Though the army action removed the main obstacle via Sant Bhindranwale, but the Akali leaders by virtue of their betrayal of Sikh cause got alienated from the Sikh masses. Indira Gandhi could not negotiate with discredited leaders, so there was need for rehabilitating them. Several methods were adopted by both the concerned parties. One was_ sending teams of tutored people all around to preach that the Govt. is out dividing the ranks of Sikhs, that the Akali leaders never surrendered and that they were rendered unconscious by tear gas and in that condition were forcibly dragged away. Particularly Kirpal Singh and Sahib Singh are very vociferous in airing this ‘false version. Let them Answer the fundamental question: What measures had they taken to meet the Govt. challenge of sending army into the Golden Temple and why did they not die protecting the sanctity of the Golden Temple, a claim they had made long and loud?
Secondly the pseudo Sikh priests in the vacuum created by the death of Sant Bhindranwale, have assumed the leadership of Sikh Panth. They are the employees of Gurdwaras appointed by the discredited Akali leaders: They blow hot and cold. They are deceiving the Sikhs. The five jathedars do not belong to the five Takhts. Only three are so, the fourth one is the head Granthi of Darbar Sahib, the fifth one is the granthi of Akal Takht. The jathedar of Takht Hazoor Sahib has not been included because he ordered the excommunication of Zail Singh, Longowal and Tohra. The policy which these priests are following is the same as was followed by Akali leadership. It becomes clear from the Sept. 2, 1984 conference.
The third method is that the Indian Govt. maligns and keeps the Akali leaders in jail so that they get sympathy from the Sikh masses.
The so called all world Sikh Conference of Sept. 2, was a combination of these methods, meant mainly to rehabilitate Akali leaders and bring to disrepute the action and policy of our great martyr Sant Bhindranwale. The priests did make antigrowth. speeches but not a word was said in support of Bhindranwale. No resolution eulogizing his martyrdom was allowed on the plea that his death was not confirmed. No resolution regarding the future of Sikh Panth was introduced. Slogans in support of Khalistan were discouraged. Flags of Khalistan were pulled down. As a result there was pandemonium near the dais twice and finally the meeting was abruptly closed when the organizers found that they were going to be overpowered by people representing the real sentiments of Sikhs. Following points would expose the real nature of the conference. 1. Zail Singh and Buta Singh were declared liable to punishment but no time limit was fixed. Answering reporters’ Kirpal Singh said, ‘‘An indefinite long time is given because we don’t want to confront the Govt.” In another statement he called the action against Zail Singh as a Sikh and not as Presient. 2. When the gathering wanted to proceed right away to liberate Darbar Sahib from the army, the priests wanted to give a notice of about a month. The truth was that the dead line of repair of Akal Takht as fixed by the Govt. was Sept. 26, 1984. 3. The govt. had declared the conference unlawful. All buses were canceled, then how about two lakh of people could gather? Of course one reason is the enthusiasm of Sikh Panth for the cause but that is not enough. Sikh News of 9.15.84. On page 8 gives the following explanation!
Lehna Singh MP brought a letter from Longowal who was in jail in Rajasthan in which instructions were given to the priests regarding the policy of the conference namely, no support for Bhindranwale way of thinking, no resolution in favor of Khalistan. The letter was shown to Buta Singh and request made that restrictions on the Conference be relaxed since it would promote Longowal Tohra leadership. Consequently not only the Govt. relaxed restrictions but also asked their henchmen to attend the conference. All Akalis outside jail attended and Bhan Singh, secretary SGPC was released. All Akalis were seated on the dais but no Bhindranwale supporter.
The betrayal by Priest leadership does not end there. After the removal of army, Zail Singh was exonerated of his heinous crime of demolishing Akal Takht. During thanksgiving meeting when the Sikh youth stood up to tell the truth, army was requisitioned and cream of Sikh youth was thrown behind bars. Then when the twentieth century Mehtab Singh Sukha Singh allegedly assassinated the present ‘Massa Ranghar,” these priests first condemned their action and then retracted. To conclude, the Khalsa must be aware of these traitors and steer clear with vision for the future of the Sikh Panth. (The readers may wish to refer to a similar article entitled ‘Custodians of the Panth or Double agent’’ that appeared in “Voice of Sikhs” No. 7 dated 14 Oct. 1984.)