AMRITSAR: Seeking to put behind a bitter row between them, the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of Sikhs, today said it has pardoned Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, accused of hurting the sentiments of Sikhs, following a letter of apology from him.
In the year 2007, the Dera Sacha Sauda chief was accused by the Sikh clergy of attiring himself as the tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, during a religious congregation of the sect at its headquarters in Sirsa, Haryana. Violent clashes had broken out between Dera followers and Sikhs in parts of Punjab at that time. After a marathon meeting of the Takht here, Jathedar Gyani Gurbachan Singh said that the Takht received a written apology recently from the chief of the Sirsa-headquartered sect in which Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has stated that he has deep respect and regard for Guru Gobind Singh as well as Sikh religion and Sikh community.
The Dera chief has said that he could never dare to hurt the sentiments of Sikhs with any blasphemous act which could hurt the community, Gyani Gurbachan Singh told reporters. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, in his apology letter sent to the Akal Takht, said that he could never think of copying the appearance of the tenth Sikh Guru since he has deep regard for all Sikh gurus.
The sect chief said he could never compare himself with any spiritual master or religious saint and therefore he cannot even think of copying the personality of any great saint, the Jathedar said reading out from the Dera chief's letter. The Jathedar also said the Dera chief, besides writing a letter to the Akal Takht, has also sent a recorded CD wherein he expressed his apology with regard to the incident of 2007 which had put the sect head at loggerheads with Sikhs. Accepting the apology of Dera Chief, the Jatehdar warned him against repeating such act in future as "the Sikh community would never tolerate repetition of such act." On May 30, 2007 the then Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti had outrightly rejected the apology of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief and said that Sikhs will continue to politically and socially boycott him in a peaceful manner.
"MSG," a film featuring the Dera head, was banned by Punjab government sometime ago, unlike MSG 2, its sequel, which was released recently. Owners of theatres and multiplexes had claimed that exhibitors want to run the film but due to alleged "pressure" from the government and "threats" from radicals they were avoiding it. President of All India Sikh Student Federation Karnail Singh Peermohammad criticized the Akal Takht's pardon for the the Dera chief, saying the Sikh community would not accept the decision "since the sect chief is still facing court of law for the last several years in connection with various cases against him..."
Radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa spokesperson, Kanwarpal Singh, condemned the decision alleging "the dignity and tradition of Akal Takht has been lowered as for the first time in the history of Sikh community a person was pardoned who didn’t bother to appear before the Akal Takht".
"So far, till date without personal appearance nobody was pardoned by the Akal Takht," Kanwarpal claimed.