AMRITSAR, The tussle between the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee executive and the high priests “sacked” by it in May last, for the control of the five Sikh Takhats has intensified with the SGPC condemning the forceful occupation of the Takht Damdama Sahib by Bhai Jaswant Singh.

While sacked Akal Takht Jathedar Jasbir Singh Rode has all along maintained that he and his set of high priests are the “real” jathedars since they had been appointed by a ‘sarbat khalsa’ (Sikh congregation), the SGPC executive committee members maintained that there’s being a legally constituted and duly elected body in charge of Sikh religious affairs, they were authorized to sack or appoint the high priests.

The “capture” of Takht Damdama Sahib by its “sacked” Jathedar Jaswant Singh has spurred the SGPC into action.

Its acting president Harinder Singh Tarn Tarani and vice president Ujjgar Singh Rengretta on Tuesday met the Amritsar deputy commissioner, Mr. Sarbjeet Singh, and the police chief Suresh Arora and urged them to hand over the Golden Temple to the SGPC.

According to SGPC sources, Mr. Tarn Tarani is reported to have requested the deputy commissioner to hand over the temple by the first week of next month. The newly appointed Akal Takht chief Darshan Singh ‘Ragi’ had also been requested to drop all domestic matters and hasten to Amritsar, since they (SGPC) fear that Mr. Jasbir Singh Rode would try to ‘capture’ the Akal Takht before Prof. Darshan Singh takes over.

However rumors in SGPC circles suggested that Mr. Rode’s next step would be to “install” Mr. Swinder Singh as Jathedar of Takht Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib.

SGPC secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta on Wednesday said here that merely going to Talwandi Sabo and declaring himself the jathedar of the Damdama Sahib did not mean that Mr. Jaswant Singh had become the jathedar of the TAKHT. He said the SGPC appointed jathedar Jagir Singh Phula was still in control of the takht as also the official residence of the jathedar.

He said the government “was backing Rode” to create confusion among the Sikhs over the issue of the control of the takhts.

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Article extracted from this publication >> September 9, 1988