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SGPC urges Akal Takht to give probe to retired judge

July 13, 2020 06:55 AM

COURTESY HT JULY 13

SGPC urges Akal Takht to give probe to retired judge
UNDER FIRE: Gurdwara body passes resolution to discontinue probe by its panel after objection by various Sikh organisations

SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal (2R) addressing a press conference in Amritsar on Sunday. ht photo
Surjit Singh

surjit.singh@htlive.com

AMRITSAR : Under fire for the 267 missing ‘saroops’ (copies) of Guru Granth Sahib from its record, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Sunday urged the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, to get the matter probed by a retired judge or any prominent Sikh personality.

A fire incident took place in the SGPC publishing house at Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib on May 19, 2016, in which 14 ‘saroops’ of Guru Granth Sahib were damaged, as per the gurdwara body claim. After five years of the incident, the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) said that the damage was done on mass level and this fact was kept under wraps save the then SAD-BJP government from public wrath when the issue of Bargari sacrilege was already burning and next assembly polls were close. On the basis of the statement of a retired employee of the SGPC, the PHRO maintained that 267 ‘saroops’ went missing after this incident and a probe must be conducted to ascertain their whereabouts. It is being dubbed another big sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in the Sikh segments.

At an emergency meeting held at Sri Guru Ramdas Medical College in Amritsar, an SGPC executive panel passed a resolution to discontinue the probe being conducted by a sub-committee constituted by it, as other Sikh bodies doubted the fairness of such a committee. The Takht has received several letters in this regard from Sikh bodies, which cite that the probe should not be given to the SGPC as its functionaries, whose role is under the scanner in this case, are influential in the body. This will be the first time in recent history that the investigation of an SGPC matter will be handed over to independent persons.

Divulging the proceedings of the meeting, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said, “An appeal has been made to Akal Takht Sahib so that the reality of the matter is brought in public domain. We want the probe to be conducted under the supervision of Akal Takht Sahib so that all kinds of doubts are removed.”

“Keeping in view of seriousness of the matter, its probe must be conducted in impartial and credible manner. So, the executive committee has urged Akal Takht. Besides, the decision has been taken to transfer the officials concerned and employees of SGPC publication and binding department with immediate effect so that the probe is not influenced in any way,” he said.

However, he did not disclose the initial findings of the SGPC sub-committee, which was constituted on June 30 on the directions of Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh.

Notably, on the basis of its investigation and statements of retired SGPC employee Kanwaljit Singh, who was deputed in the publication department where the holy saroops went missing, the PHRO had also alleged that the SGPC deliberately hid the 2016 fire incident that massively damaged the saroops and stated that this event was linked with the lost saroops. However, the SGPC refuted these charges.

ATTACH CASE WITH 2015 SACRILEGE PROBE: MP

Amritsar MP Gurjit Singh Aujla, has written to the Akal Takht jathedar urging him to ask the Punjab government to attach the missing saroops case with the ongoing probe into 2015 sacrilege incidents, or initiate a time-bound judicial investigation under the supervision of a sitting judge of high court instead of a retired judge or some eminent personality. “Judicial probe or probe by SIT will have better chances of standing in court than probe by an in-house team; and this is evident from the probe in the matter of sacrilege incidents in Faridkot district. It would have been better if the SGPC president became a party in the 267 missing saroops case and wrote to the police for FIR registration,” his letter reads

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