In a dramatic turn of events, acting Jathedar of Shri Akal Takht Sahib (one of the five takhts or seats of power of Sikhs) Giani Harpreet Singh has been removed from the post and Giani Raghbir Singh has been appointed as the new Jathedar.
The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) executive committee held today. Harpreet Singh had run into controversy for attending the engagement ceremony of AAP MP Raghav Chadha and Bollywood actress Parineeti Chopra.
Prior to his appointment, Raghbir Singh served as Jathedar of Kesgarh Sahib (Anandpur Sahib, birth place of Khalsa) and has served as the head priest of the Golden Temple. In August 2017, the SGPC appointed him as the acting Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib. Meanwhile Giani Harpreet Singh, however, will continue to be the Jathedar of the Takht Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo. Meanwhile Giani Sultan Singh has been appointed the Jathedar of Kesgarh Sahib.
Notably, Harpreet Singh delivered his final address as the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib on the anniversary of Operation Blue Star on June 6.
Following the decision, SGPC chief Harjinder Singh Dhami addressed the media saying that Giani Harpreet Singh himself expressed his wish to relinquish the charge and there was nothing more to the story. “There has been a long pending demand to appoint regular Jathedar and Giani Harpreet Singh himself wanted to be relinquished of the charge. At our executive body meeting, we decided that Giani Harpreet Singh will continue to be the Jathedar of the Takht Damdama Sahib,” Dhami said.
— Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (@SGPCAmritsar) June 16, 2023
Following his appointment Giani Raghbir Singh said that he would aim to uphold the goals and principles of Shri Akal Takht and strengthen the spirit of Sikhi.
Giani Harpreet Singh was holding the officiating charge as the Jathedar of the Akal Takht since 2018. He was also holding the regular charge of the Takht Damdama Sahib, another Sikh temporal seat at Talwandi Sabo in Punjab’s Bathinda.
Giani Harpreet Singh was in news after his presence at the engagement event of AAP MP Raghav Chadha and actress Parineeti Chopra. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Virsa Singh Valtoha had opposed Singh’s attendance at the event. Singh had on numerous occasions issued appeals to SAD to shift focus from politics to panth or Sikh welfare.
The development has now set all eyes on November polls of SGPC where SAD will have to fight it out for its four decades long monopoly over Sikh governing body. Prior to this their former veteran leader and former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur has also announced the formation of new front Shiromani Akali Panth to contest SGPC elections against the candidates of Badal family. Kaur had voiced same concerns about politicisation of the highest temporal seat of Sikhs. Recently she invited people from all political parties be it AAP, Congress or BJP to join in her aim to liberate Panthik institutions from the monopoly of the Badal family. She had alleged that in the last 25 years, there has been serious deterioration in the working of SGPC and too much interference by political leadership of Akali Dal leaders in the working of SGPC has embarrassed the community.