Chandigarh, 7 February (2022) Three years ago, the Kendri Singh Sabha began opposing the hidden practice of caste discrimination among the Sikhs which has openly been objected to by sensitive Dalits. Keeping in view the Sikh Gurus’ sustained campaign against the Brahmanic caste system and their launching of ‘Langar’ (common kitchen) to practically do away with this sordid practice, the Singh Sabha too became active on this front. It sought to mobilize the Sikh groups for observing 100th anniversary on 20 October 2020 when Dalits (Untouchables) succeeded in gaining unrestricted entry in the Golden Temple complex.
We confronted an open and hidden opposition from the well-off Sikh elite and also from a section of Sikh leaders who emerged during the recent Sikh militancy period. We were accused of “dividing the Sikh Panth on a non-existent issue which had already been settled on 20 October 1920”. Consequently, a few non-Dalit Sikhs joined Dalit organizations’ sponsored ‘anniversary march’ to the Golden Temple and Akal Takht Sahib on 20 October 2020.
Even after that, the Singh Sabha continued to hold ‘hidden caste discrimination’ among the Sikhs as a serious violation of the Sikh thought and practice which is bound to weaken the Sikh Panth morally, socially, and politically.
With one-third of Punjab’s population being Dalits, and overwhelming majority among them are Sikhs, the caste discrimination and caste system have been a serious SOCIAL and POLITICAL ISSUE ever since the election system was introduced by the British 100 odd years ago. Elections slowly became an important feature of democratic governance now.
Twentieth-century Sikh leadership of various Gurdwara Managements, The SGPC, Akali Dal and other Sikh political formations rarely gave serious thought to diabolical caste practice among the Sikhs. Barring an exceptional happening when Dr. Ambedkar sought to become a Sikh along with his followers the Sikh leaders of various sorts extended only symbolic help towards the uplifting of Dalits in Punjab.
When Akali Dal and local political formations failed to give due weightage to the Dalit Issue, Congress has picked it up, albeit, for gaining electoral benefits. It could be by default, but nominating of Charanjit Singh Channi as the party’s chief ministerial candidate will help and motivate the Dalits in regaining social equality and better political say in the governance.
Though Kendri Singh Sabha does not support any political party in the election fray but hail the catapulting of a Dalit as chief minister candidate as it would help solve a palpable Dalit Issue in the land of Sikh gurus.
The statement jointly signed by: Prof. Sham Singh (President, Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha), Jaspal Singh Sidhu Journalist, Gurbachan Singh, Editor Des Punjab, Er. Gurpal Singh Sidhu, Prof Manjit Singh, Gurpreet Singh Representative, Global Sikh Council, Surinder Singh Kishnpura, Er. Suprinder Singh, Navtej Singh and Rajwinder Singh Rahi.
Issued by Khushhal Singh, General Secretary Kendri Sri Guru Singh Sabha
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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