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News & Views

Resolution on Demise of Dr Gurmit Singh, an IOSS Member

The news of the untimely demise of Dr Gurmit Singh was received with a shock by the members of the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh. Dr Gurmit Singh was involved in a fatal accident while returning to his residence from the High Court Chandigarh.

The General Body of the Institute in its meeting held on April 07, 2009, observed two-minute Silence in his memory and offered prayers for the departed soul and solace to the members of his family.

Dr Gurmit Singh was an active member of the Institute and was a prominent legal expert who dedicated his valuable time and energy to the cause and concerns of the Panth related to the legal and constitutional issues such as Section 25 of the Indian Constitution, the Sikh Personal Law and the proposed All-India Gurdwara Legislation.
He will be missed in the ready advice he always rendered even at a very short notice on all the legal aspects under the consideration of the Institute.

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Sikh Literature – Panel Accuses Centre of Conspiracy

Amritsar, June 24. The destruction of rare books and manuscripts of the Sikh reference library during Operation Bluestar was part of a conspiracy of the Union government to destroy Sikh heritage. This was stated by five-member committee that was constituted by Sikh organisations to go into the destruction of the books of the Sikh reference library in the Golden Temple complex.

The committee, comprising human rights activist DS Gill, former IAS officer Gurtej Singh, Lieut-Gen Kartar Singh Gill (retd), Gurpreet Singh and advocate Amar Singh Chahal, yesterday observed that on June 7, after the culmination of Operation Bluestar, the Army fired a rocket towards the library destroying the Sikh literature. It said the committee had been able to establish this fact after a preliminary probe to establish the conspiracy angle in the incident.

The committee alleged that before setting the library on fire, the Army took away rare books and other items associated with Sikh religion and history.

The committee felt that there were several contradictions in the statements made by the government, which never clarified the exact position of the manuscripts that had been lost for ever.

Advocate Gill said the committee would submit its complete report to the SGPC within a month. (Courtesy: The Tribune, June 25, 2009)

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Retaining Unshorn Hair a Basic Tenet of Sikhism : HC

Chandigarh, May 30. In a significant ruling, the full bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ruled that “retaining hair unshorn” is one of the most important and fundamental tenets of Sikh religion.

The full bench comprising Justice J S Khehar, Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal dismissed the petition of Sikh students who were claiming admission to the MBBS course at Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Amritsar, under the minority quota. The petitioners were denied admission by the college run by SGPC, for not having unshorn hair. The petitioners had applied for admission for the academic session 2008-09. Out of 100 seats, 50 per cent seats were reserved for candidates belonging to the Sikh minority community.

Justice J S Khehar held, “For the present controversy, we hold that retaining hair unshorn is one of the most important and fundamental tenets of the Sikh religion. In fact, it is undoubtedly a party of the religious consciousness of the Sikh faith.”

Keeping in view the “historical background of the Sikh religion, legislative enactments involving the Sikh religion, the Sikh rehat-maryada, the Sikh ardas and views expressed by scholars of Sikhism,” the bench ruled that all these views led to one unambiguous answer, that maintaining hair un-shorn is an essential component of the Sikh religion.

The full bench further ruled, such, if a Sikh organisation or body decides not to extend any benefit which is otherwise available to a Sikh, to a person who does not maintain his hair unshorn, its determination would be perfectly legitimate.” The court ruled that an affidavit sworn at the hands of an individual, under section 2(9) of the Gurdwara Act of 1925, who does not keep his hair unshorn, may legitimately be considered an affidavit. The court added that since all petitioners trim their hair or pluck their eyebrows, they can legitimately be denied of benefits available to Sikhs. (Courtesy: The Indian Express May 31, 2009)

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Withdraw Gallantry Awards: Tarlochan

New Delhi, June 9. Independent MP Tarlochan Singh has asked the government to take back gallantry awards from the Army and other security men involved in Operation Bluestar in 1984.

Tarlochan Singh was speaking in the Rajya Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the Presidential address. He pointed out that on the 25th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, Sikhs in Europe and the US are taking out protest marches commemorating the injustice committed on the Sikhs.

The MP has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to move a resolution in both Houses of Parliament condemning the attack on the Golden Temple. “Simultaneously gallantry awards given to the soldiers and other security personnel involved in the operation should also be taken back,” he added.

Tarlochan Singh said: “Gallantry awards are given to the soldiers for fighting the enemy and not attacking your own people.”

He rejected the government's move for 33 per cent reservation for women and said Punjab has already achieved it. “We have elected four women MPs out of 13 this time and, therefore, the nation should also adopt the Punjab formula,” he suggested.

Tarlochan Singh criticised the government for not taking up the issue of jaziya imposed on Sikhs in Pakistan, and said thousands of Sikhs had been ousted from their homes and were living like refugees in gurdwaras. “The Indian government has neither sent them any aid nor taken up the issue with the Pakistan government.” (Courtesy: The Tribune, June 10, 2009)

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Film on Drug Menace, Social Evils Screened

Mohali, May 30. The preview of ‘Kab Gal Lavehnge,’ the latest film production by Hardeep Singh, was screened at the auditorium of Shivalik Public School, Phase VI, Mohali, on Saturday evening. Producer and director of Sikh religious movies, Hardeep is also a member of SGPC.

The screening was inaugurated by Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Jaspal Singh in the presence of Manjit Singh, former Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, who has written the story for the film.

Depicting socio-religious aspects of the contemporary society, Hardeep said the film not only deals with drug menace in society, shortfalls in the management of religious institutions and lack of will among the social, political and religious ranks, but also spreads awareness on social evils and gives a message to the people to contribute positively.

“The film is a servile prayer to the Almighty that our society becomes free from drugs and steps into a bright future by liberating itself from such evils,” said Hardeep.

The lead cast include Hardeep Singh, Talwinder Singh, Jugrajdeep Singh, B N Sharma, Parbhjot Kaur and Akaljot Singh. The music for the film has been given by Santosh Kataria while the shabads have been recited by Harcharan Singh Khalsa, Bholan Kular. Surinder Khan has lent his voice for the songs. (Courtesy: The Indian Express, May 31, 2009)

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Turban Ban by US Army – SGPC Chief Writes to PM

Amritsar, June 18. President, SGPC, Avtar Singh, has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram to take up the issue of ban on the turban by the US army with the Barack Obama government.

Avtar Singh, in two separate communications to Singh and Chidambaram, attributed the decision to a lack of awareness on the part of the US army, which had asked two Sikh recruits, Capt Kanwaljit Singh Kalsi and 2nd Lieut Tejdeep Singh Rattan, that they could continue in the army only after removing their turbans and shaving their hair.
Captain Kalsi, a doctor, and 2nd Lieutenant Rattan, a dentist, were part of an army programme that pays for medical education in return for military service. One of the affected officers, Rattan, belongs to Amritsar.

At the time of their enrolment, military recruiters had assured both men that their turbans and unshorn hair "would not be a problem." However, after serving in the army for four years, the authorities were now asking them not to adhere to the basic Sikh identification symbols.

Meanwhile, the Sikh coalition has launched a campaign to protect the right of Sikhs to serve in the US army with their religious identity intact. The coalition has launched a signature campaign to garner support as the Sikh community was hurt by the decision of American army. The coalition had also written to the higher authorities of the US army in this regard.

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Golden Temple Lookalike Row
Fill Sarovar with Earth, Raze domes: Sikh Conclave
Dera head to be Summoned at Takht

Amritsar , June 20, The Sikh conclave, convened at the behest of Jathedar Akal Takht in the SGPC’s Teja Singh Samundri Hall here today, directed the gurdwara management to change the design of the Sikh shrine at Mastuana, near Sangrur, by demolishing its four domes and filling its sarovar (holy tank) with earth under the supervision of the SGPC.

Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh has also decided to summon Baba Baldev Singh Sahera, Dera head, Sachkhand, Mastuana, and all those responsible for replicating the Golden Temple. He directed to change the name of the gurdwara from Sachkhand Mastuana to Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Mastuana. The Jathedar also directed the SGPC to ensure that Har ki Pauri, built on the pattern of the Golden Temple, be demolished. He ordered probe to identify forces behind the Golden Temple lookalike.

However, representatives of Sikhs organisations, including Rajinder Singh Khalsa, convener, Khalsa Panchayat, Bhag Singh Ankhi, secretary, Chief Khalsa Dewan, Bhai Mohkam Singh, spokesman, Damdami Taksal, Kanwarpal Singh, leader, Dal Khalsa, and Dr H S Dalgir, former Director, Research, SGPC, said a majority of Sikh organisations wanted the demolishing of the entire structure of Mastuana's Sikh shrine that looked like the Golden Temple.

Bhai Rajinder Singh, Bhai Mohkam Singh and Kanwarpal Singh said if the building of Akal Takht, reconstructed by the government in 1986, could be demolished, why "relief" was given to the management of Mastuana which violated the Sikh Maryada (Sikh code) by replicating the Golden Temple.

However, SAD secretary-general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa's speech was interrupted by Sikh leaders. Chairman of the Dharm Parchar Committee Tarsem Singh and Rajinder Singh Khalsa, president, Khalsa Panchayat, alleged that Dhindsa and SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann were present at the time of desilting from sarovar of the Sikh shrine at Mastuana.

SGPC president Avtar Singh said Sikhs would not tolerate raising of the replica of the Golden Temple and management of the Mastuana gurdwara had conveyed to Akal Takht that they were ready to change the design of the Sikh shrine there. He said the Mastuana management had failed to fulfil commitment made to Akal Takht and the SGPC in 1996 that the architecture of the Sikh shrine at Mastuana would be changed.

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Jathedar: Only Akal Takht has Power to Issue Hukamnama

Anandpur Sahib, June 21. No Takht, apart from Akal Takht has any right to issue hukamnama to the Sikh community. Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Gurbachan Singh said other Takhts of Damdama Sahib, Huzoor Sahib and Patna Sahib could issue only regional hukamanamas.

He was here to preside over concluding ceremony of summer camp held at Dasmesh Martial Arts Academy. Akal Purkh Ki Fauj had organised this summer camp.

Talking about the incidents like Dera Sacha Sauda controversy, Baba Bhaniarewala's rising and now replica of Darbar Sahib coming up in Mastuana, he said such issues came to fore only during the SAD rule in Punjab as anti-panthic forces made it an agenda to defame the party.

“The anti-panthic use these tactics (of raising controversial issues) during the SAD regime only so as to topple the government,” he said.

On issue of replica of Darbar Sahib coming up in Mastuana, the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has been directed to ensure that design of building at Mastuana is changed.

He distributed prizes to 350 students in age group of 14 to 20 years participating in the camp. Harmeet Singh was named best boy camper, while Harvir Kaur was selected as best girl camper.

The convener of Akal Purkh Ki Fauj, advocate Jaswinder Singh said students from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir had participated in this camp.

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Letters to Editor

A Martial Sect of Hindus”

Dear Editor,
I enclose a cutting from newspaper, Washington Post of 29th March 2009, giving an alarming picture of growing number of young Sikhs, who are discarding Sikh identity of Keshas and Turban. If this alarming situation continues, what is the future of the Sikh religion?

According to my thinking, political power and religion depend on each other for their subsistance. Please see how Jews, once a dispised community, are now a force to reckon with, with an independent state of their own. The Muslims ruled over India, converted Hindus to Islam by force and by political will. After 1947, Hindus got a new lease of life. Gods like Hanuman, Ganesh, Vaishno Devi have been popular and even Sikhs seem to worship them. Last year, a Sikh offered about 2 crores of Rupees to Bala ji Mandir of South India. On the other hand, not many Hindus know the unique sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur, who gave his life without any order to compulsion, but for justice. Gandhi ji going to jail is give so much publicity and projected as pioneer of Non-violence.

I think the second reason for young Sikhs removing their turbans is the adverse effect of the Sikhs who have migrated to UK, USA and Canada. When they come to India, they are mostly shaven, and they display and boast so much of their superiority, that the villagers get so impressed that most of the people do away with their turbans.

Third reason is frequent display of kirpans on all Sikh functions. The people who watch the naked kirpan think that their Gurus might have preached the importance of only kirpan, which is wrong. It should be used as a symbol. Guru Gobind Singh has clearly written in Persian as follows:

“When all peaceful methods cannot solve a problem, then it is justified to use sword.”
Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s father Guru Tegh Bahadur peacefully sacrificed his life, but it did not make any dent in the cruelties of Aurangzeb. Guru Gobind Singh had no alternative but raise sword to destroy that evil.

The fourth reason is that most of the so-called schedule castes had embraced Sikhism. But most Sikhs don’t treat them as equal. So they are embracing the Nirankari or Radhaswami sect.

I had a dictionary which gave definition of Sikhs as “A Martial Sect of Hindus”. How wrong it is!

Rachhpal Singh Sodhi
11201, Devereux Manor Ln
Fx Station, VA 22039 - USA

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