Akal Takht Chief asks for ban on RSS, says it’s out to “divide” India

Giani Harpreet Singh, the Akal Takht Chief says RSS is not in the interest of the country

Akal Takht chief Giani Harpreet Singh 

In a reiteration of his statement, Akal Takht Chief Giani Harpreet Singh has called for a ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) saying that the statements made by the leaders of the Sangh aren’t in the interest of the country.

Speaking to a group of reporters in Amritsar, urging the BJP government to put checks on the Hindutva outfit, he said, “Yes, it should be banned. I believe what the RSS is doing will create divisions in the country. The statements being made by RSS leaders are not in the country’s interests.”

His comments regarding the RSS have come shortly after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said that “Bharat is a Hindu Rashtra”. In his speech, Bhagwat had said, “The vision and proclamation of the Sangh regarding the identity of the nation, social identity of all of us, and the identity of the country’s nature, are clear, well-thought-of and firm that Bharat is Hindustan, Hindu Rashtra”.

The RSS planned to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. Speaking about this, Singh said, “We have no problem if RSS celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. But they must celebrate it under the Sikh code of conduct and must not violate any rule, trading or ritual of Sikhism”.

Giani Harpreet Singh’s first remark had come at a Sikh conference he was addressing at Sri Anandpur Sahib on October 10. Terming the RSS a threat to minorities, he said, “Announcement by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to convert India into a Hindu nation will prove extremely dangerous for the country”.

This statement against the RSS by the highest authority of the religious authority of Sikhism is a significant one.

Prior to this, The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) President Gobind Singh Longowal too had condemned Bhagwat’s statement saying that his call for a Hindu Rashtra was a contempt of the constitution. He added that India was a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual country and all the religions here had their own history, principles and way of living.

It must be noted that the SGPC is controlled by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is an alliance of the BJP.

Giani Harpreet Singh
Giani Harpreet Singh, the son of a Granthi and a master’s degree holder in comparative religion has come to be a vocal critic of the Hindutva laden narrative of the RSS and BJP.

The abrogation of Article 370 by the BJP government had received strong criticism from Punjab. The Akal Takht Chief had issued a statement urging Sikhs to protect Kashmiri women in all adverse circumstances.

Singh, who has on several occasions openly condemned the BJP and RSS, is a PhD from Punjabi University in Patiala. Having done a comparative study on the Guru Granth Sahib and Quran, he is a stoic supporter of inter-faith solidarity and an advocate of minority rights.

His condemnation of the RSS is also an implied remark on the SAD which has links with the Sangh.

SGPC / Akal Takht Vs RSS / BJP
In February 2019, the SGPC and Akal Takht had hit out at the BJP when it the party had tried to meddle in matters of the appointment of the President of the Takht Hazur Sahib Nanded Board. Giani Harpreet Singh had then accused the BJP of “political interference in religious matters”.

The SGPC President Longowal too had said that the BJP had a hidden motive to appoint an RSS-minded Sikh as the president of the board, something that wouldn’t be acceptable at any cost.
In 2014, the then Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh had asked Sikhs to boycott an RSS event that was organized to celebrate Guru Gobind Singh’s 350th birth anniversary.

In a press statement he had said, “We cannot allow assimilation of Sikh history into other religion. It cannot be tolerated. Sikhs are a separate community, with separate identity, we have our own unique history. Sikhs never interfere in the religious beliefs, traditions and history of other faiths and they cannot tolerate interference into Sikh religion.”

A 2004 hukamnama (directive) issued by the Akal Takht had asked all Sikhs to stay away from the RSS, citing it to be “anti-Panthic”.
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