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  1. Kaunke was arrested in 1993 and his whereabouts are not known since then.(HT Photo) A portrait of former acting jathedar of Akal Takht Gurdev Singh Kaunke will be installed at the Golden Temple museum, 25 years after his alleged forced disappearance. The decision was taken a few months ago when Kirpal Singh Badungar was the president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), said SGPC member Gurcharan Singh Grewal, while speaking to HT on Tuesday. Kaunke, who studied at Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal, was born in 1949 at Kaunke Kalan village in Jagraon subdivision of Ludhiana district. He was appointed as acting jathedar of the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs with the support of pro-Khalistan groups during a “Sarbat Khalsa” (Sikh congregation) held on January 26, 1986, when militancy was at its peak in Punjab. At the assembly, the delegation of “Sarbat Khalsa” announced sell out Jasbir Singh Rode as the jathedar of Akal Takht. Rode was imprisoned during his appointment, therefore the delegation assigned Kaunke to serve as the acting jathedar. On April 29, 1986, the Panthic Committee held a press conference at the Golden Temple and declared a separate Sikh nation. Soon after the declaration, all members of the Panthic Committee escaped. Subsequently, the police and army surrounded the premises and arrested Kaunke. Kaunke was arrested a number of times for his alleged support to militant groups. He was close to Sukhdev Singh Sakhira of the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF). The Akal Takht building — that was damaged during Operation Bluestar in June 1984 when the army stormed the Golden Temple complex — was rebuilt during Kaunke’s tenure. He was again arrested in 1993 and his whereabouts are not known since then. Sikh advocacy groups allege that he was subjected to forced disappearance. Kaunke’s death anniversary is observed on January 1 at his birthplace Kaunke Kalan. Grewal said Kaunke was a “respected personality” and “martyr” of the Sikh community. A resolution was passed during the tenure of Badungar to install Kaunke’s portrait at the museum. “A meeting will be convened by the SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal to finalise the date of installing Kaunke’s portrait,” he said. http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/golden-temple-museum-to-have-ex-akal-takht-acting-jathedar-kaunke-s-portrait/story-d5IN1HpENdntaGUVZSf7iO.html
  2. Source: SGPC Approaches Bhai Pinderpal Singh to be Akal Takht Jathedar Amritsar Sahib – Bhai Pinderpal Singh ji, who natively 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 Sahib. 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 Sarbat Khalsa 2015 to ‘appoint’ Bhai 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 (Bhai Pinderpal Singh) 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. 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, Bhai Pinderpal Singh ji 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. 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. YOUR OPINION: Do you think Bhai Pinder Singh ji should accept the offer to be New Akal Takht Sahib Jathedar?
  3. Perneet Singh Tribune News Service Amritsar, June 6 Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh today justified naming former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as the perpetrator of Operation Bluestar and raising pro-Khalistan slogans. Talking to the mediapersons after an “ardaas” to mark the Army operation’s anniversary here, the Jathedar said, “The prayers are offered in a similar manner every year. We’ve not named Indira Gandhi in it for the first time. There is nothing wrong in it,” he said. On pro-Khalistan slogans being raised after the event, he said there was no ban on demanding Khalistan. He, however, declined to comment when asked whether he supported the demand. On General Shubeg Singh’s name not finding mention in the “ardaas”, he said they would keep it in mind in future. The objection regarding it was raised by Beant Singh, brother of General Shubeg Singh, who came here for the anniversary event, but wasn't allowed inside Akal Takht. The Jathedar justified tight security arrangements in view of the last year’s clash. It was meant for the safety of the pilgrims, he said. On deployment of cops in civvies on the Golden Temple complex, he said they had come to pay obeisance at the shrine. He also demanded that the Union Government should return the rare artefacts and books taken away from the Sikh Reference Library during Bluestar. Earlier, addressing the ceremony, he said the wounds inflicted by Bluestar were still fresh even after 31 years. “These are unforgettable scars on Sikh psyche,” he said. He said the community should make a united effort for the release of Sikh detainees languishing in different jails for years. He gave a call to the community to jointly work to root out evils like drug addiction and rising apostasy. He also asked them to curb female foeticide and respect women. The day started with the police and the SGPC task force turning the entire Golden Temple Complex, particularly the area around Akal Takht, into a fortress for the ceremony to mark Bluestar anniversary. The SGPC task force members outnumbered others inside Akal Takht. As soon as the Akal Takht Jathedar’s address came to an end and kin of the “martyrs” were felicitated, there was intense sloganeering in support of Khalistan by those who had gathered for the Akhand Path bhog. Subsequently, the crowd, mostly comprising Sikh youth, marched around the “parikarma” of the Golden Temple with banners of “Khalistan Zindabad” in their hands. SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjeet Singh Mann was conspicuous by his absence. Prominent among those present on the occasion included SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar and Damdami Taksal chief Harnam Singh Khalsa. Tension grips Phagwara Phagwara: Tension gripped the town as Hindu and Sikh radicals held prayers at different places on the anniversary of Operation Bluestar. The police had made tight security arrangements in the town. While Sikh radicals held a meeting at Gurdwara Sukhchain Sahib, the activists of Shiv Sena paid tributes to the Army men, who died during the operation, at another place. —OC Chabeel held Muktsar: The Sikh Virsa Council on Saturday organised a “chabeel” at Kotkapura Chowk to mark the death anniversary of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. — TNS Tight security in Patiala Patiala: The city was turned into a fortress with tight security arrangement in place on Saturday. No clash was reported. Members of the Sikh community held akhand paaths at six main gurdwaras to pay tributes to the Sikhs, who died during Operation Bluestar. On the other hand, Hindu organisations held a yajna at Kali Devi Temple in memory of the security personnel who died on the day. — TNS http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/akal-takht-jathedar-justifies-calling-indira-perpetrator-of-bluestar/90520.html
  4. November 4, 2013 By Daily Sikh Updates Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh expressed concern over drug addiction among the Sikh youth and the use of unfair means during examinations in schools and colleges. “Drugs, liquor and copying have become the main hurdles in the progress of the Sikh community. We have always been a community associated with hard work, progress and development, but unfortunately these evils have taken hold of our youth,” the jathedar said in his customary Diwali day or Bandhi Chhor Divas message to the community from atop Darshani Deori. He appealed to one and all, including parents, to take steps to check drug addiction and liquor intake among their children. On the use of unfair means in exams, the jathedar sought to remind members of the community that such methods would not take a youngster very far. “It is unfortunate that Diwali has become associated with drinking (liquor) and gambling. We are forgetting that it is an important religious event for all,” he added. Giani Gurbachan Singh regretted that due to lack of proper guidance, particularly from parents and teachers, Sikh youngsters were not being taught their mother tongue (Punjabi). “The result is that children are not familiar with Sikh religion and history and are being drawn away from their culture and customs, he added. “I appeal to all to make the use of Punjabi a habit at home. Nameplates at homes and work places should also be in the mother language. We must make it a habit to print marriage invitation cards in Punjabi,” he added in his message. He called for setting up more sporting facilities in Punjab so as to prevent the youth from being hooked to drugs and liquor. He also called for imparting quality education and taking stern steps to check the use of unfair means in exams. Prayers in memory of 1984 riot victims Prayers were offered at the Akal Takht on Diwali day in memory of those who were killed in the anti-Sikh riots on November 1-3, 1984. After the ardas, Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, in his address, regretted that even after 29 years of the massacre, justice had not been done. The wounds inflicted on the Sikh community have not yet healed, he told the gathering at the Akal Takht. “It was a planned and organised attack on the community. Entire families were wiped out and those who had organised these attacks were later rewarded with ministries and became MPs,” the jathedar added without naming anyone. He recalled the manner in which rioters went from one Sikh home to another, butchering men, women and children. Tyres were put around the necks of some of the victims and they were set afire, he added. “When Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, no community was targeted and so was the case when Rajiv Gandhi was killed. Then why was the Sikh community targeted?” he asked. The jathedar regretted that despite numerous inquiries and commissions, justice had not been done. On the contrary, threats are being issued to witnesses, he alleged. On the occasion, the jathedar honoured Paramjit Kaur, who had lost 24 members of her family in the riots in Delhi. Originally Published by: HT
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