The Politics of the ‘Akalis’

In 1984 the Buddha Dal being the centre of command of the Nihang Singhs did not participate in the sangarash. While their other Jathas like Tarana Dal Shaheedi Misal, Harianbela, and SurSingh did. After the Akal Takht Sahib was nearly destroyed by the GOI, the Khalsa Panth refused to repair it, so the masses could see what the GOI did. Baba Santa Singh took it on himself to do this kar sewa, for which he was criticized. The SGPC and Akalis were disbanded by the GOI and by the Sarbatt Khalsa. Once Prof Darshan Singh came back into power as a Government stooge he reinstated the Akalis and SGPC.

The restored Akal Takht Sahib by the Buddha Dal was then raised to the ground, even though 60% of the structure remained intact after the attack.

They then decided to totally raze the Akal Takht Sahib to the ground something the GOI did not do, and rebuild it. Then give Baba Santa Singh a Tankha for rebuilding the Akal Takht Sahib. Prof Darshan Singh then excommunicated Baba Santa Singh and made Amrik Singh the leader of the SGPC Buddha Dal! After Amrik Singh died, the SGPC then made Balbir Singh into the SGPC Buddha Dal leader. Baba Harianbela said ‘the SGPC had no authority to nominate jathedar of the Budha Dal.’ He added that ‘jathedarship of any sect was bestowed according to traditions, conventions and customs of the Nihang sect.’ Therefore, none of the Nihangs Singh accepted this, all of them saw Akali Baba Santa Singh as the true leader.

Even after Baba Santa Singh went to the Akal Takht Sahib to make peace with the rest of the Khalsa Panth, Balbir Singh still insisted that ‘He [Balbir Singh] was the head of Buddha Dal’.

Nihangs Recognise Santa Singh As Jathedar

Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, March 25, 2001\r\nThe controversy regarding jathedar of the Budha Dal was put to rest with heads of various Nihang sects recognising Baba Santa Singh as the real jathedar after he completed his ‘tankha’ after 17 years of his excommunication, at Likahsar gurdwara here today.

Baba Santa Singh, who was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth for carrying out the construction of Akal Takht after Operation Bluestar against the ‘Sikh maryada’, rejoined the Sikh Panth when he was given a ‘siropa’ by Giani Man Singh, Head Granthi, Takht Damdama Sahib after reciting the ardas.

Baba Partap Singh, Head Granthi, Sach Khand Sahib, Nanded (Maharashtra) and Baba Nihal Singh Harianbela, who addressed the gathering in the gurdwara after the ‘ardas’ pointed out that Baba Santa Singh was the real jathedar of 96 ‘crori Budha Dal.’

Baba Harianbela said the SGPC had no authority to nominate jathedar of the Budha Dal. He added that jathedarship of any sect was bestowed according to traditions, conventions and customs of the Nihang sect.

However, earlier reports had indicated that the SGPC had recognised Baba Balbir Singh as jathedar of the Budha Dal after Baba Santa Singh was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth.

Heads of about 20 Nihang sects participated in today’s gathering and made offerings when they met Baba Santa Singh at his dera.

After the completion of the ‘tankha’, Baba Santa Singh was taken to his “chawni” (cantonment), the tradition headquarter of Budha Dal. Young Nihangs played ‘gatka’ enroute.

It was a colourful procession as the Nihangs donned their traditional blue and kesri attire.

At his dera, Baba Santa Singh in the presence of other Nihang chiefs, told mediapersons, that he was a victim of conspiracy, to keep him out of the Sikh mainstream.

He added that he had always recognised the supremacy and sovereignty of Akal Takht as a humble devotee.

Justifying his action of performing kar seva for the reconstruction of Akal Takht, intensively damaged due to shelling in Operation Bluestar, Baba Santa Singh said he had attempted to salvage the image of the Sikhs who were being branded as terrorists.

He said his action of devotion to the ‘Guru Ghar’ and service to the community was misconstrued by his opponents and selfish politicians.

In response to a question, he said the government had acted in a haste in ordering the Operation Bluestar. The Nihang patriarch said had the government approached the Panth it would have cleansed the Golden Temple complex of all undesirable elements.

Baba Santa Singh justified his submission before Akal Takht as an attempt to create harmony among the Sikhs remove all misgivings and apprehensions.

He said he had never intended to defy the authority of Akali Takht as the ‘maryada’ of this temporal seat was established by the initiators of the Budha Dal whom he claimed were the real custodians of the legacy of Guru Gobind Singh.

Baba Partap Singh said today’s development where Baba Santa Singh had completed his ‘tankha’ was as historic as the submission of Maharaja Ranjit Singh before Akal Takht.

Baba ji after going to the Sri Akal Takht Sahib to pay his respects

Baba Santa Singh accepts ‘tankhah’

Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Baba Santa Singh, Budha Dal chief, appears before Akal Takht on Saturday. Photo By Rajeev Sharma

Amritsar, March 17 After 17 years of his excommunication from the Sikh panth for carrying out construction of Akal Takht against “Sikh Maryada” (after Bluestar) Baba Santa Singh chief of Baba Budha Dal today accepted the “tankhah” (punishment for religious misconduct) pronounced by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar from the rostrum of the Akal Takht today.However, Giani Puran Singh, head granthi, Golden Temple did not attend the meeting of five high priests in which the written petition of Baba Santa Singh seeking unconditional apology from the panth was discussed at length.

The move of the rejoining of the Khalsa Panth by Baba Santa Singh was kept top secret as it was being opposed by some of his followers.

The five high priests, including Jathedar Vedanti, Prof Manjit Singh, Giani Kewal Singh, Giani Bhagwan Singh, Giani Gurbachan Singh announced that Baba Santa Singh would be re-admitted into the Sikh fold after five days of “tankhah” which include recitation/listening of Japuji Sahib and arranging Akhand path at Gurdwara ‘Likhansar’ (part of Takht Damdama Sahib) and offering “Ardas”.

Baba Santa Singh, who is not keeping good health was brought in a wheel chair in front of the Akal Takht.

Baba Balbir Singh, who was appointed chief of the parallel sect of the Budha Dal by the SGPC after excommunication of Baba Santa Singh welcomed the decision of Baba Santa Singh for bowing before the Akal Takht after a long gap. He, however, said that now Baba Santa Singh must drop his claim to be chief of the Budha Dal as he had appeared before the Takht as a ‘humble Sikh’. He claimed that he was ‘real Jathedar’ of the Budha Dal as he was honoured at the occasion of the tercentenary of the birth of Khalsa Panth at Anandpur Sahib and many other occasions by the SGPC. Though Baba Balbir Singh denied that he had opposed the readmission of Baba Santa Singh into the Sikh fold yet sources pointed out that pronouncement of “tankhah” was delayed for about an hour as Akal Takht was not clear about his (Baba Balbir Singh) fate. However, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti said that Baba Santa Singh would continue to be chief of the Budha Dal after his readmission into the Sikh fold.

The Budha Dal sect has a great history as its Jathedar Baba Phula Singh had pronounced “tankhah” on Maharaja Ranjit Singh for developing illicit relations with a lady called Moran.

After the damage to the building of Akal Takht during Operation Blue Star in June 1984, Baba Santa Singh took the responsibility to re-build the supreme temporal seat at the behest of Mr Buta Singh the then Union Home Minister who was deputed by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister for this purpose. Though Mr Buta Singh had approached many ‘Babas’ of ‘Kar sewa wale’ for the renovation of the Akal Takht but everybody refused to do so as they would lay the pre-condition for the withdrawal of security forces from the SGPC complex. Baba Santa Singh took the help of Baba Narain Singh and convened the so called ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ on August 11, 1984 at Akal Takht and took the decision to carry out the ‘Kar sewa’. However, the Sikh Panth described it as “sarkari sewa”, as men and material of government departments were used for this purpose. The contract was given to a big company “Skipper Builders” owned by one Tejwant Singh. The renovation was complete within a record time of one and half month time. However, he was excommunicated from the Panth as the renovation was not carried out as per “Sikh maryada”. At that time Baba Santa Singh had claimed that he had done a “great sewa” as neither the SGPC nor the high priests had dared to stop Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale from occupying the building of Akal Takht which resulted in its damage of the Takht during “Operation Blue Star.”

While pronouncing “tankhah” the high priests gave lot of relaxation to him on health ground.

Baba Santa Singh is the second Sikh after Canada-based Rattan Singh Girn who had applied for atonement before the Akal Takht within a month. Earlier, Jathedar Akal Takht had started the process for readmitting Mr Girn into Sikh fold on February 27.

Talking to the press, Jathedar Vedanti claimed that many more Sikhs from India and abroad who were excommunicated from the Sikh Panth in the past had desired to rejoin the Panth. He said Akal Takht forgave all whosoever bowed before it.

The followers of Baba Santa Singh said that he had decided to rejoin the Sikh Panth for the “high spirits” of the Khalsa Panth. They said his step would be inspiration for others. Baba Udhe Singh nephew of Baba Santa Singh, Maharaj Singh, Baba Partap Singh and Mr Prithipal Singh, Personal assistant to Jathedar Vedanti played crucial role for bringing Baba Santa Singh into the Sikh fold.

It may be recalled that at many occasions, especially during the Hola Mohalla processions, the followers of Baba Santa Singh and the SGPC and common Sikh would confront with each other. It was age old tradition that the chief of Budha Dal would lead the procession on such occasions. With his rejoining the Sikh Panth, these festivals would now be celebrated peacefully.

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