Sarbat Khalsa 2015 LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY

By Harwinder Singh Mander

Welcome to our live text commentary of the Sarbat Khalsa that is taking place right now at Gurdwara Baba Naudh Singh, Chabba, PUNJAB. This page will provide regular updates about what is taking place as well as reactions from around the World – get involved and send us your thoughts the best of which we’ll post on the page. We’ll also keep you informed about the best place to watch or listen live.

Please note that on this page we will be providing a commentary and not reporting – as much as we will be objectively posting in the spirit of the Sarbat Khalsa, there will be some opinionated analysis!

We’ve added a live feed of the Sarbat Khalsa which is being provided by Akaal TV on this page; visitors on their mobiles might find delays to the stream or that the embedded feed is not visible in which case we advise you to tune in to Qaumi Awaz Radio from Australia who are providing a purely audio stream.

All times stated are AMRITSAR

15:31 Harinder Singh a representative of North American Sikhs reads aloud the resolutions and preamble in English.

Sarbat Khalsa’s purpose is to strengthen all Sikh institutions and traditions. We acknowledge the process had several limitations. We will work towards fully diverse and inclusive principles, participation for the next Sarbat Khalsa.

Infused with the fragrance of Gurbani, the mystical body of Sarbat Khalsa met today with unconditional allegiance to the Guru Granth Sahib – an infinite source for wisdom for all.

In spirit of consensus-based decision making capturing the political will of the Sikh nation, Sarbat khalsa invokes the leadership of Guru Granth Sahib and Guru Khalsa Panth. And resolves to the following resolutions:

First, it absolves the four current Jathedars from their duties – Giani Gurbachan Singh, Giani Mal Singh, Giani Gurmukh Singh, and Giani Iqbal Singh and appoints the following interim Jathedars until Vaisakhi 2016 as follows: Bhai Jagtar Singh Hawara at Sri Akal Takht Sahib; Bhai Amrik Singh Ajnala at Sri Keshgarh Sahib; and Bhai Baljit Singh Daduwal at Sri Dam Dama Sahib.

Second, reaffirms Akal Takht Sahib is Guru-gifted, sovereign Sikh institution which must become fully independent again. A draft committee is to be constituted comprising of Sikhs both from the homeland and the Disapora by 30 November 2015 to report on Akal Takht Sahib’s system which includes Sarbat Khalsa and Jathedars’ governance and process. Plan is to be adopted by Vaisakhi 2016 when the next Sarbat Khalsa is to be held.

Third, declares Kanwarpal Singh Gill and Kuldip Singh Brar ‘tankhaiya’, chastised for anti-Sikh Genocidal campaigns and summons them at Akal Takht Sahib to present themselves by 30 November 2015.

Fourth, finds Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir Singh Badal and Avtar Singh Makkar guilty of undermining and misusing the Sikh institutions of Panj Pyare and Akal Takht Sahib; nullifies Parkash Singh Badal’s ‘Faqqar-e-Qaum’ and ‘Panth Rattan’ and Avtar Singh Makkar’s ‘Shiromani Sevak’ awards.

Fifth, Sarbat Khalsa creates World Sikh Parliament to represent global Sikhs under the aegis of Akal Takht Sahib. A draft committee is to be constituted comprising of Sikhs both from the homeland and the Diaspora by 30 November 2015 to report on its structure and governance. Plan to be adopted by Vaisakhi 2016.

Sixth, calls on Sikhs to safeguard sanctity of Guru Granth Sahib and aptly deliver justice in accordance with the Khalsa traditions to those disrespecting the eternal Guru.

Seventh, Sarbat Khalsa recognises the Sikh political prisoners as the Sikh nation’s assets and holds the State responsible for the resultant consequences due to Jathedar Surat Singh’s struggles, and demands all political prisoners of any movement in India such as Sikhs, Naxalites, Kashmiris, Nagas and others to be released unconditionally now.

Eighth, Sarbat Khalsa revives the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee’s democratic representative system to manage the internal Sikh affairs which have been suspended by the State over the years.

Ninth, orders all Sikhs to fully refrain from all internal, divisive, doctrinal debate until the sovereignty of the Akal Takht Sahib is restored.

Tenth, recognises the Sikh nation must establish a unifying, independent Sikh calendar.

Eleventh, aspires for vatican-like status for Harimandir Sahib complex to ensure every Sikh’s birthright to visit and deliberate at the Akaal Takht Sahib.

Twelfth, reaffirms the resolutions adopted by the Sarbat Khalsa held on 26 January 1986.

Thirteenth, embraces the disenfranchised fellow human beings to be treated with dignity and respect; appeals to stop the construction of caste-based Gurdwaras and cremation grounds.

All Sikhs and Sikh institutions are to implement the aforesaid thirteen resolutions in both letter and spirit.

14:59 The first matta (resolution) is that three of the Five Takht Jathedars are to be removed from their positions and replaced by interim Jathedars until Vaisakhi 2016:

Akaal Takht Sahib: Gurbachan Singh to be remplaced by Jagtar Singh Hawara – (Dhian Singh Mand)
Kesgarh Sahib: Giani Mal Singh to be replaced by Amrik Singh Ajnala
Damdama Sahib: Giani Gurmukh Singh to be replaced by Baljit Singh Daduwal

14:57 And this is the moment we have been waiting for. Gurdeep Singh Bathinda is to present the matteh one by one.

14:49 Baljit Singh Dadhuwal now briefly addressing the stage makes the point (hopefully for the final time today) that this Sarbat Khalsa has gathered many ordinary Sikhs of all backgrounds and thinking together. Long may that continue. Bring on the matteh please!

14:37Professor Mohinderpal Singh, General Secretary of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) is now addressing the Sarbat Khalsa reading aloud the preamble to the matteh (resolutions) that are to be presented for passing.

14:21 Mohkam Singh now takes over the compering duties. Speakers continue in a similar vain as before. Anticipation growing now for the matteh (resolutions) that are going to be presented for acceptance.

14:08 Giani Ram Singh of the Dam Dami Taksal expresses the message that Sikhs are unified at this Sarbat Khalsa and must maintain this unity in order to move forward. Succinctly put. Giani Ram Singh was anounced as the Head of Dam Dami Taksal which has been a dispute running for a number of years now – certainly an announcement intended to put Harnam Singh Dhumma in his place (Dhumma is the more-wider recognised Head of the Dam Dami Taksal and a pro-Badal individual who has denounced this gathering of Sarbat Khalsa)

13:53 Resham Singh of the USA continues the voice from the west… and it’s not again in-keeping with the spirit of the Sarbat Khalsa. He concludes his near 5 minute platform with a nod to Simranjeet Singh Mann as the leader we should all have been looking to for the last thirty years. A Sarbat Khalsa is meant to be free of personal/party promotion and not seen as a stage under the auspices of any one individual. Resham Singh did the Mann group no favours with that spot.

It has been 29 years since the last Sarbat Khalsa and times have changed immensely since then in many ways including technology, influence of the Diaspora, and broadcast communications. That we are able to experience this Sarbat Khalsa wherever we are sitting around the World is itself remarkable. It does mean of course that this is a first for this Sarbat Khalsa where we are learning as we go – not just sitting behind our computer screens and mobile phones, but there even on the stage in Amritsar. Just how this manifestation of Sikh political leadership will need to be tweaked in the future will come rapidly as the events unfolding in the Sarbat Khalsa are being analysed as we speak.

13:42 Unless I’m mistaken, we have the first speaker from the Diaspora Guebhej Singh from the USA. Like far too many speakers so far, quite forgettable sadly.

MEANWHILE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

13:22 A little surprising that it took until now to have an awkward moment but it came as the Satkar COmmittee’s Kamalpreet Singh spoke on stage to ask why protestors at Kotakpura were advised to relinquish their weapons. A few voices from the stage right ask the comperes to intervene which they breifly do. Kamalpreet Singh responds to say that he will take his seat if he cannot make his statement but is then permitted to continue. A little dig here at a few of the Kotakpura leaders who have distanced themselves from the Sarbat Khalsa, but also a truth that many Sikhs in the congregation will have enjoyed hearing as to why Khalsa Sikhs were told to leave their kirpans at home despite facing police brutality last month at Kotakpura.

13:14 Ex-Rajya Sabha member and Punjab-MLA, Avtar Singh Karimpuri offers political party input on the stage, speaking up the mandate of the BSP party he belongs to and in opposition to the right-wing that dominates Indian politics today. That type of self-promotion is not strictly in-keeping with Sarbat Khalsa protocol.

13:01 Joga Singh, who attacked Anandpur Sahib Jathedar Giani Mal Singh in early October, takes to the stage and makes the claim that there is only one solution, that of Khalistan. Despite the chorus of jakare that followed, his time comes to an end rapidly and the following speaker makes a point of claiming that looking over the Sarbat Khalsa masses, Khalistan has already been made. One hopes Joga Singh is not punished for his statement.

12:52 Bhai Harcharan Singh who was a Darbar Sahib kirtani until he was unceremoniously retired last month addresses the stage. His kirtan jatha had sung the shabad ‘Kuta Raaj Bahaleyah’ in the Darbar Sahib following the Akaal Takht Jathedar’s decision to pardon the Sirsa Dera head. Referencing that incident he continues the theme of lamenting the corruption that has taken hold of the heart of Sikh institutions.

MEANWHILE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

12:39 Jaspal Singh Heran, editor of Pehredar newspaper, takes to the microphone and reminds the Sangat that times are as they have been for thirty years – where the beadbi of the Guru Granth Sahib takes place, Sikhs should not expect Police investigations and cases to yield results. In every village there should be motorcycles ready to move, in a nod to a statement made commonly by Sant Jarnail SIngh Bhindranwale prior to the invasion fo Darbar Sahib in June of 1984.

12:20 Ravinder Singh Gogy, the son of hunger striker Bapu Surat Singh is addressing the Sarbat Khalsa with just one message from his father: that everybody has gathered because of their love for the Guru Granth Sahib, that the Akaal Takht is in the hands of the wrong people, and that we must not forget those who are imprisoned. I make that three messages but he delivered them so efficiently we can let that go. He also mentioned that his father was listening in to the Sarbat Khalsa via telephone – interesting to note that people across Punjab will be tuning in through a range of means including telephone streams.

MEANWHILE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

12:07 Stage compere Satnam Singh is the breakout personality on this stage so far – ‘on form’ does not do him justice! He just asked the TV stations present, tongue-in-cheek, whether or not they should extend the boundary of the Sarbat Khalsa grounds as the number of people present was well into the hundreds of thousands and had exceeded capacity. He went on to say that he was asking the stations as some of them were continuing to report that this Sarbat Khalsa was not well-attended – not all of the stations, just some of them! Wonder which ones? Ahem.

11:47 Compere Satnam Singh definitely had his weetabix this morning! Each time he announces new speakers to the stage he comes with an intensity to fire up the crowd that has me reaching for the volume controls on the TV remote! Will his voice last the day?

MEANWHILE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Bibi Pritam Kaur’s words summarised by Kulpreet Singh: “The decisions of the Sarbat Khalsa, deliberated by the leaders of the Panth, will be announced by the parbhandak veers. We should all take the decisions as blessings of joy in our laps and go home, considering this a very auspicious day. Related to that, I just make one request to you all: your mothers, daughters, sisters have an equal involvement in these decisions. All women of the Khalsa Panth have the right to an equal voice in this process.

11:38 Balbir Singh Muchhal of the Satkar Committee just addressed the sangat. Summed up proceedings so far, when he concluded his 1 minute on stage by stating that he simply wanted darshan of the Sangat (presumably from the stage) – surely this time should be given over to actual statements furthering the Sarbat rather than the pleasantries we’re hearing? One can understand that many of the organisations present need to be acknowledged, but there are reportedly hundreds of them in attendance. Long day ahead then.

11:34 Bibi Pritam Kaur taking more time than previous speakers – perhaps because she is the only female speaker so far – and she takes the opportunity to tell the Sangat to remember that half of their collective cannot be left behind at this time, that is their mothers, sisters, and daughters.

11:32 Bibi Pritam Kaur is the first female to address the Sarbat. You may have heard her speak before, an incredibly brave and enduring woman who was the wife of Rashpal Singh, the PA of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Her words are as one would expect bold and brave encouraging the Sangat to recognise the strength which they hold in their hands.

11:20 Easily the best contribution so far has just been given by an editor, Baljeet Singh, who encouraged the Sangat to remember that change will not come until the institutions of the Panth are reclaimed from the individuals who have comandeered them.

11:19 …and as if they were reading this live text there is confirmation for us that every speaker is being given just the 1-2 minutes to speak. The stage today is being compered by two individuals, Jaskarn Singh Kanpur and Satnam Singh, both associated with the Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar party of Simranjeet Singh Mann.

11:12 Well that was interesting! Being kept to time, Sant Hari Singh Randhawe-wala spoke for just over a minute and didn’t really say anything to report back. Unsurprising if you’re up to date with current affairs I think, but probably the shortest time he’s ever been given (and was expecting). A poet now reciting probably the most interesting words of the last twenty minutes.

11:08 So far this has had the feeling of a wedding stage with short speeches not really saying much other than to welcome the sangat and congratulate the Panth on this gathering. That might be about to change – here comes Sant Hari Singh Randhawe-wala of the Sant Samaaj.

11:00 Jaswant Singh Purain, ex-SGPC member now addressing the Sarbat, keeps his words succinct and is quickly followed by Esher Singh Hyderabad. Interesting words from the latter that he has been exploring secret records in the UK.

10:55 Ramanjit Singh Sikki who resigned as an MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) following the beadbi of the Guru Granth Sahib now addresses the sangat.

10:45 Giani Jaswinder Singh, ex-Head Granthi of Darbar Sahib Amritsar takes to the stage.
Giani Jaswinder Singh you might recall was controversially fired by the SGPC for not performing his duties satisfactorily, although there were suggestions this was a cover for the fact he wasn’t towing the ‘Badal line’.

10:00 The Dhadi jatha of Jatinder Singh Sidhu of Patiala perform vaars in opening the Sarbat Khalsa 2015.
Wonderful to see some women on the stage in this jatha – let’s hope does this mean we’ll see more female representation throughout the day too? We can hope