Four Panj Pyare dismissed by Gurdwara committee

Four of the Panj Pyare (the five beloved Sikhs) who have been seeking the removal of the three Sikh head priests, including the head priest of the Golden Temple, were Friday dismissed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), its employer.

The four were dismissed after a meeting of the SGPC on Friday, which charged them with violation of the SGPC service rules, indulging in anti-Panthic activities and trying to weaken Sikh religious institutions, including the Akal Takht. One of the Panj Pyare retired yesterday.

The decision comes ahead of the deadline set by the Panj Pyaras for the dismissal of the Jathedars (head priests) of Akal Tahkt, Tahkt Keshgarh Sahib and Tahkt Damdama Sahib. The ones who have been dismissed had questioned the role of the Akal Takh in pardoning Sirsa-based sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a blasphemy case. As the clemency escalated into a major row, the pardon was withdrawn. In October, the Panj Pyare were suspended by the executive and transferred from Amritsar. Later, the suspension orders were withdrawn.

Out of the 15 member-executive body of the SGPC, two members opposed the decision to dismiss the four Panj Pyare. The two were against the dismissal and walked out of the meeting. SGPC president  Avtar Singh Makkar later said that the action was taken as the executive concluded that their activities over the past two-three months had done damage to the Panth. Besides, they had violated discipline code by which all SGPC employees were bound, he added.

The Panj Pyaras were employees of the SGPC and appointed to propagate the Sikh religion and to perform baptism ceremony and to lead religious procession on important occasions. “They overstepped their jurisdiction and indulged in activities that were not in the interests of the Panth. They caused a great deal of confusion in the Sikh community,” he added. The four will announce their next move tomorrow as the deadline given by them to remove the Akal Takht head priests expired on Saturday.

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