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Ram Singh Dhillon Passes Away, Surat Singh Puran is New A.K.J. Chief


The Tribune, Amritsar, Mar. 1, 2006

Photo: Surat Singh Puran

Photo: Surat Singh Puran (left) and Ram Singh Dhillon

A 'war of succession' has started following the death of Bhai Ram Singh Dhillon, jathedar [chief] of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (A.K.J.), who died in sleep at his residence here today. He died a day after his 90th birthday. He was born on March 1, 1916, in Indonesia.

While an 11-member committee announced Giani Surat Singh Puran the new jathedar soon after the cremation of Bhai Ram Singh, Giani Baldev Singh claimed that he was the 'real jathedar' of the Jatha.

The Jatha shot into limelight after the Sikh-Nirankari clash on April 13, 1978, in which 13 of its members had died on the spot. Bhai Ram Singh had 'love-hate relations' with Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. Before joining the Jatha, Bhai Dhillon had served in the Royal Indian Air Force and fought against Japanese in the World War II. He had retired as Squadron Leader and then served as factory manager for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Kanpur.

Dr. Sant Parkash Singh Dhillon, son of the Jatha chief refused to comment on the 'war of succession' in the Jatha. However, he said that nobody would be allowed to make any speech at Bhai Ram Singh's bhog to be held here on March 11 as per his last wish.

Talking to The Tribune, Bhai Baldev Singh said that he did not give recognition to Bhai Puran as A.K.J. jathedar. He alleged that the announcement to install Giani Puran as A.K.J. chief in the cremation ground was in 'gross violation' of the rehat maryada [code of conduct]. He said such a jathedar could not be acceptable since the announcement was made without the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. However, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former jathedar of the Akal Takht, who presented a siropa (robe of honour) while justifying the announcement of the successor, said that formal religious rites would take place at the time of bhog ceremony of the A.K.J. jathedar.

Bhai Ranjit Singh praised the services of Bhai Ram Singh to Sikhism.

Bhai Ram Singh had serious differences with Sant Bhindranwale on the subject of Raagmala [a disputed section at the end of the Guru Granth]. The A.K.J. sunk differences with the Damdami Taksal after the death of Sant Bhindranwale. However, the development was not accepted by a section of the A.K.J. and hence a parallel jatha, named Prabandhki Panchayan was constituted.

Earlier, Bhai Baldev Singh, then deputy jathedar of the A.K.J., had announced that Bhai Ram Singh had blessed him with jathedari on January 26 last year. However, Bhai Baldev Singh was not acceptable to the 11-member committee. This Committee had claimed that Bhai Ram Singh was not taken into confidence when Bhai Baldev Singh had 'installed himself' jathedar.