Amritsar: The Jathedar of Akal Takht, the highest decision making body of the Sikh community worldwide, has taken seriously the razing down of the Mangu Mutt at Puri by the Odisha government.
Expressing his displeasure over the silence of Sikh community in Odisha over the issue, the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh, has summoned the various parties to Amritsar for a meeting.
The office bearers of the Gurudwara Singh Sabha, Bhubaneswar, the President of the Odisha Sikh Pratinidhi Board, the officials of the Dantan Sahib Gurudwara at Katak, the Trustees of the Arti Sahib Gurudwara at Puri and the members of the Bhai Himmat Singh Trust of Puri have been asked to be present at Amritsar.
The Jathedar of the Takht Harminder Sahib of Patna, under whose jurisdictions the Odisha comes too has been summoned.
The Jathedar has also summoned the officials of the Delhi Pradesh Gurudwara Committee and the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee to be present. Both the SGPC and DGPC had sent their teams to Puri in October. The SGPC team leader had made a controversial statement to the press in which he had said that there was no relevance of Guru Nanak in the Mangu Mutt. This had raised a hue and cry in Punjab and the SGPC had given a statement condemning its own representative’s words.
Anil Dhir too had been requested to be present at Amritsar for the hearing. However he has refrained from a personal appearance and has submitted his report with the hope that adequate measures are taken for the protection of the other two shrines.
Eminent historian and a research scholar on the holy link between Guru Nanak and Jaganath Dharma Anil Dhir, who had opposed the demolition, has been asked to depose before the Jathedar. Dhir has reportedly has submitted his report to the Jathedar expressing his inability for physical presence in the hearing.
The Jathedar, in a statement released to the media on the 15th Dec, had said that all the Sikh individuals and bodies who have erred in stopping the demolition will be taken to task.
The Akal Takht was built by Shri Guru Hargobind as a place of justice and consideration of temporal issues of the Sikhs . It is the highest seat of authority of the Khalsa (the collective body of the Sikhs) and the place of the Jathedar, the highest spokesman of the Sikhs.
The Sikh Sangat of Odisha is sharply divided and in their game of one-upmanship, the issues of saving the Mutt was not taken up and proper protests were not lodged . Till date, the Sikh Sangat of Odisha, which has nearly 39 Gurudwaras in Odisha and has a State Pratinidhi Board, has not put up any official protest.
The matter of the demolition was taken up by heritage expert Anil Dhir who has written a book on the Sikh history of Odisha and Advocate Sukhvinder Kaur, a practicing lawyer of the Odisha high court. Through their efforts, the demolition was stopped for a couple of months. Dhir and Sukhvinder had also appealed to the Supreme Court for stopping the demolition. India Collective had taken up the matter and obtained a temporary stay. However the demolition was completed. They have filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court the hearing for which is scheduled on the 8th January 2020.
What is strange is that while the local Sikhs have shown no interest in stopping the demolition, they have rather welcomed the razing down of the Mutt and lauded the district collector. This has raised the hackles of many Sikhs worldwide.
The matter has been raised by the Sikh diaspora worldwide with many prominent Sikhs coming down to Puri. Satinder Singh, a devout Sikh from abroad camped in India for two months and protested against the demolition move by the government.
Furthermore, the Punjabi Mutt too has been vacated and is slated for demolition. According to Dhir, both these Mutts have associational significance with Guru Nanak Dev’s visit to Puri in 1506 C.E. The connection between Sikhism and the Jagannath temple goes back to more than 500 years ago when Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited the holy temple. It was at the spot of the Mangu Mutt that the Holy Sikh Arti, which is enshrined in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, was composed. The Baoli Mutt, another shrine, has the Holy Guru Granth Sahib in place since the last three centuries.
The Akal Takht is wielding the power to punish the Sikhs for religious misconduct. The punishments come as polishing the shoes of devotees coming to Gurudwara and washing dishes in the Langar.