The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is contemplating to pick eminent Sikh kathavachak (preacher) Giani Pinderpal Singh (49) as the Akal Takht jathedar to replace the beleaguered Giani Gurbachan Singh.
The development comes in the backdrop of the controversial decision taken at the radicals’ Sarbat Khalsa to ‘appoint’ former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassin Jagtar Singh Hawara as the Akal Takht jathedar.
As per reports, speculation is rife in Sikh circles that a person like Pinderpal would be acceptable to Sikhs in India as well as abroad, be it moderate or hardliners, to head the highest temporal seat of the community.
“A person like him (Pinderpal) can certainly help bring the Sikh community out of the current crisis, but it remains to be seen whether he would accept the post of the Akal Takht head or not,” said SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar, adding that it was premature to reach any conclusion.
Pinderpal, who hails from Tharwa Majra village in Karnal (Haryana), lives in Ludhiana. Sources say he is being persuaded by the SGPC and other Sikh bodies to head the Akal Takht.
In August 2008, he was approached by the SGPC to take over as the Akal Takht jathedar after the ouster of then jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, but he refused the offer.
Talking to HT on the phone, Pinderpal said, “In the current situation, there is an acute deficit of trust and faith among the Sikhs. No Sikh believes in the other. Moreover, when there are two jathedars (one appointed by the SGPC, the other by the ‘Sarbat Khalsa’), it is very difficult for both to prove who is the real one.”
Evading queries on being approached to head the Akal Takht, he said a priest could not be a leader.
Pinderpal, a product of Gurmat Missionary College, Rupnagar, is known to focus on Gurbani rather than criticising the political set-up in Sikh institutions. Considered to be in the league of preacher Sant Singh Maskeen, he has a popular slot on a Punjabi TV channel for performing ‘katha’ daily at 9am.
He got upset with the SGPC when he was told late last month to wind up his scheduled 10-day ‘katha’ on the fourth day because of his comments on the Panthic crisis, made at Manji Sahib on the premises of the Golden Temple.