Neo-Nirankaris and Kapur Singh’s White Paper – the true story
When Balkar Singh was shot dead in Mumbai, I could not help but recall the neo-Nirankari episode of 1978. I made special efforts to retrace the White Paper written by Sirdar Kapur Singh soon after the incident. I was happy to lay my hands on the document though it brought back bitter memories of how Kapur Singh, who had reluctantly penned the document at the instance of SGPC, was cheated in the end. It made me further sad that though no official White Paper has been prepared by the SGPC in the case of the Sauda Sirsa cult, the chicanery and fraudulent manner in which the Sikh religious leadership is handling the Sirsa dera case, is no different from what they did unto the Sikhs while handling the neo-Nirankari case.
I had a special association with the White Paper. As a member of the Sikh Students Federation Maharashtra, I learnt that the SGPC did publish the document, some fifty thousand copies, and then under pressure from the Jan Sangh, possibly Atal Bihari Vajpayee, destroyed them all. Sikh students from Mumbai requested Bhai Sahib that they would publish it, but those were not the days of the internet and correspondence took time. Before we could go ahead and publish it, Capt. Bhag Singh of The Sikh Review, Kolkatta published it and saved the day for the Sikh people and for Bhai Sahib Kapur Singh.
When I re-read the thought provoking, well-researched article, entitled, They Massacre Sikhs, written by the Sikh nation’s National Professor of Sikhism in his typical inimitable style, I found that the material therein as relevant today as it was thirty years ago. I found it amazing for myself that even after thirty years; I had not forgotten having read the article. The sound and image of the words of Kapur Singh could still instill a sense of awe and respect for his erudite language and depth of knowledge and would also build the necessary angst which a thinking Sikh mind should develop. The impact of Kapur Singh is quiet everlasting and young Sikh minds, having the good of the Khalsa Panth at heart, should partake of this flavour in Me Judice, Sachi Sakhi and Parasharprasna.
While writing the Sauda Primer, published by World Sikh News two weeks ago, I dwelt substantially on this article’s presentation of the genesis of the conflict between Sikhs and such cults.
The present extracts from that lengthy White Paper are an edited version of what the author perceived to be the real to the issue and the rationale he builds to explain his hypothesis. Matsyanyaya –Fish Justice is a familiar fable for Sikhs in India. They have experienced it far too long and continue to do so. It is perhaps time for the Sikhs to search the idiom and logic to counter this continuum.
The discerning reader will find similarities between the role of the neo-Nirankari movement and that of the Sauda dera. Sadly, he will find a lot of commonality between the kind of response generated and delivered by the mainstream Sikh religious and political parties –then and now. As at that time and now, the mantle of protest and designing and delivering a response mechanism fell on the shoulders of fringe parties. Significantly, in 1978 and in 2008, these small organisations and groups delivered what was expected of them.
Jagmohan Singh is a political commentator based in Ludhiana. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
16 July, 2008