Punjab Pulse Bureau Report
The matter of 267 Saroops (copies of the holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib) that are reported missing from the publishing house of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) at Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib near Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar has been in the media glare for quite some time.
The matter came to light in May, 2020 when a SGPC employee, Kanwaljit Singh, accused his organisation (SGPC) of forcing him to issue holy Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib to influential persons without putting the transaction on record. He also accused SGPC of not disclosing the real number of holy Saroops burnt during a fire incident in 2016. He said that 80 holy Saroops got burnt in the fire but the SGPC disclosed only 14. Kanwaljit Singh retired on 31 May, 2020 from the post of Assistant Supervisor in the publication department of SGPC.
The first response of the SGPC was to put down the statement of Kanwaljit Singh as an attempt to cover his negligence. “The fire incident had damaged around 14 Saroops, not 80, as claimed by him. When his negligence was exposed, he had agreed to pay the damages. Now, he is backing out and defaming the SGPC,” said Rajinder Singh Mehta senior vice president of SGPC. Kanwaljit Singh then lodged a police complaint against the SGPC officials while maintaining that 267 holy Saroops have been found missing from Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib.
The Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) has taken congisance of the matter on the grounds that there is possibility of an attempt to hush up the matter being made by the previous Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) led Government in view of the flak it had received in the Bargari issue. PHRO headed by Justice Ajit Singh Bains recommend that a probe be held and accordingly communicated its recommendation to Chief Secretary, Punjab. PHRO member Surjit Singh Verka said that the fire incident was hushed up in view of the 2017 state Assembly elections.
SGPC President, Gobind Singh Longowal constituted a subcommittee to look into the matter of the missing holy Saroops. The SGPC, also demanded a probe from the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs. It had said the matter must be probed by a retired judge or any prominent Sikh personality.
Accordingly, on July,14, the Akal Takht authorities sent a team to seal the records of SGPC’s publication wing at Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib, records from 2015 to till date that would pertain to the alleged missing Saroops were sealed in the presence of Akal Takht’s additional Head Granthi, Giani Malkiat Singh and employees of the SGPC’s publication department.
Acting Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Harpreet Singh announced the name of a retired woman Sikh judge, Navita Singh, to conduct the probe with Ishar Singh, a lawyer at the Telangana high court providing assistance.
Sadly, while giving a bizarre twist to the proceedings, Deep Singh, an actor who works mostly in Punjabi films has stated an apprehension that the Saroops might have been sent to Nagpur, implying that they have been sent to the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, (RSS). SGPC president Gobind Singh has termed this statement as a false propaganda and called for action against Sidhu for defaming the organisation.
There is a strong case for raising a formal investigation against Deep Sidhu to establish the basis on which he has made his very serious allegation that has the potential of causing a rift between communities.
There is anger among the Sikhs with respect to the issue more so as it has come to light in the wake of the infamous Bargari issue. A timely and judicious closure to the matter is of great significance under the existing circumstances.