How SGPC magicians turn a truck into a trunk

A TV talk show digs into rampant corruption at SGPC and death of former chief secretary Harcharan Singh at height of missing Guru Granth saroops controversy

Harcharan Singh – Photo: Videograb from Punjab Ghait interview
By Asia Samachar Team | PUNJAB, INDIA |

It is nothing strange these days to listen to anecdotes of the rampant corruption in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), an organisation that plays a key role in the Sikh faith.

The Amritsar-based Sikh body, which has at its base elected representatives, has a huge bearing on decisions taken on Sikh faith matters. This includes what comes through the Akal Takht, usually badged as the Sikh supreme decision making body.

How bad are things at the SGPC? In the Prime Discussion discussion show at Prime Asia TV on Saturday (5 September), the SGPC corruption took centre stage.

Talking to show host Gurpreet Sandhawalia, discussant and senior journalist Jatinder Pannu outlined the situation, with incidents like how someone donated a truck, but was fraudulently listed as a trunk.

The Sikh from Maharashtra donated the truck some four years ago. A year later, he came forward again, this time to settle any maintenance bills for the truck. Lo and behold, their files listed no such truck. SGPC officials finally found the receipt document, but it stated he had donated a trunk! The truck had disappeared into thin air.

SEE: Prime Discussion (1282) || ਚੀਫ਼ ਸੈਕਟਰੀ ਦੀ ਮੌਤ ਜ਼ਿੰਮੇਵਾਰ ਕੌਣ ਕੌਣ ?

In the beginning of the show, Jatinder spoke about SGCP former chief secretary Harcharan Singh who died of a heart attack on Saturday (5 September), in the midst of a major controversy of the missing Guru Granth Sahib copies, called bir or saroops.

On Aug 24, the SGPC executive had announced that it would initiate criminal proceedings against Harcharan and several other officials that they alleged were accountable for the misappropriation of Guru Granth saroops.

He was summoned to the Akal Takht along with the 2016 SGPC’s executive body on 18 Sept for not performing mourning prayers for the loss of saroops in an accidental fire in May 2016 at Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan in Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib, reported The Tribune.

Harcharan was the talk of the town when he came on board a record breaking remuneration package. As the chief secretary, a role specially created for him, the former banker took home Rs 3 lakh per month (Rp300,000), plus perks. He came on board in August 2015 after being handpicked by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal.

SEE ALSO: Harcharan Singh talks on missing saroops

When his salary package became an issue, he offered to reduce it to Rs 1 lakh per month. Eventually, Harcharan resigned in July 2017 citing “personal reasons”.

In February, he released a book, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee di Vartman Stithi, which laid bare alleged shortcomings within the SGPC.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee di Vartman Stithi by Harcharan Singh

Speaking on Harcharan, Jatinder told the programme that he had himself criticised Harcharan for his hefty package while he was engaged at the SGPC. Publicly, Harcharn did not respond to the criticism. In private, after resigning from the SGPC post,  Jatinder said Harcharan told him that most people did not know that he had left a job paying him Rs 8 lakh a month to take on the SGPC position.

After retiring as the Punjab & Sindh Bank general manager, Harcharan joined the Indian Express between 2000 to 2015 as its corporate director and group financial advisor.

Jatinder also said that Harcharan had said he and his family were channeling a huge portion of their salary to run an old-folks home in Chandigarh, where Harcharan was also personally involved as a volunteer.

In the interview with Ghaint Punjabi, Harcharan emphasised on the need for a check and balance to improve SGPC and its workings.



Excommunication and Sikhism: The case of Bhai Ranjit Singh Dhadriawala (Asia Samachar, 4 Sept 2020)

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