The recent removal of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh, despite opposition from several quarters has divided the Sikhs once again. He is not the first Jathedar who has been shown the door unceremoniously.
Here is a list of previous jathedars of Akal Takht Sahib who were sacked in a similar fashion.
1. Bhai Ranjit Singh – It started with the suspension of Bhai Ranjit Singh on February 10, 1999, when a tussle between Akali Dal stalwarts Parkash Singh Badal and Gurcharan Singh Tohra reached a flashpoint.
Bhai Ranjit Singh was given 30 days time to explain his position. After he failed to send his explanation to the SGPC he was sacked as Jathedar
2.Bhai Ranjit Singh was replaced by Bhai Puran Singh. After 13 months, he too was thrown out in an unceremonious way on March 28, 2000, after his move to ex-communicate then SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur for violating his directives on the Nanakshahi calendar sparked a furore.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the SGPC’s executive body, chaired by Bibi Jagir Kaur. Giani Joginder Singh Vidanti, a `granthi’ (priest) in Harmandir Sahib, the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple complex, was appointed acting Jathedar.
3. Prof. Manjit Singh -In Feb 2003, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhanka Committee (SGPC) sacked the Jathedar of Takht Keshgarh Sahib Manjit Singh following allegations of corruption and misuse of his position. Prof Manjit Singh is the first Jathedar who has been sacked without giving him a chance to clarify his position. He was the first Jathedar whose entry was banned at Akal Takht by the then Jathedar, Bhai Ranjit Singh. The Jathedar (Bhai Ranjit Singh) had announced that Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh won’t be allowed to attend the meetings at Akal Takht till he submitted the accounts of the World Sikh Council.
4. Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti was “forced to quit” as Akal Takht Jathedar in August 2008, apparently for not toeing the Akali Dal line on the Dera Sacha Sauda row and for showering praise on then PM Manmohan Singh. But the SGPC claimed he had resigned because of ill-health.
5. Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh as jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, who opposed the SAD move to revert to the Bikrami calendar, was sacked by SGPC recently in Jan 2015.
Reports in the media said a memorandum signed by 150 of the 185 members of the SGPC general house was handed over to chief Avtar Singh Makkar for removing Nandgarh by Amarjeet Singh Chawla, a member of the general house.