Amritsar: The Sikh clergy today pardoned Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for his alleged blasphemous act of presenting himself in an attire similar to that of Guru Gobind Singh in 2007. The decision, taken during a meeting by the Akal Takht following a clarification from the sect chief, has angered a section of Sikhs.
The agenda of the meeting was kept confidential as none of the Akal Takht Secretariat employees knew about it. Attempts were also made to keep the media at bay.
In 2007, the Akal Takht issued an edict barring Sikhs from ties with the dera after the sect chief failed to appear before it. This led to clashes between Sikhs and dera followers.
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said the pardon came following deliberations on the clarification sent by the dera chief through his representatives.
Written in Punjabi, the clarification bears the dera chief’s signatures but he has neither expressed regret nor apologised over his alleged blasphemous act. He has merely denied the allegations of impersonating Guru Gobind Singh while stating he respects all Sikh Gurus.
Various Sikh bodies said the clergy’s move had come under “political pressure”.
Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh said it was perhaps the first time someone had been pardoned without even appearing before the Takht. “The Jathedar has violated the norms. The clandestine pardon raises suspicion. The Badals (CM Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal) have misused the seat of Jathedar for their votebank politics,” he alleged.
AISSF chief Karnail Singh Peermohammed termed the decision “politically motivated” saying it would be written in “black letters”. SGPC ex-member Jaswinder Singh said the dera chief had neither apologised nor expressed remorse in his letter.