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56 Sacked S.G.P.C. Employees Give Up Sikh Religion
By VISHAL RAMBANI
The Hindustan Times, Amritsar, Apr. 17, 2005
As many as 56 expelled employees of the S.G.P.C. today abandoned Sikhism and gave up articles symbolic of the faith in protest against their not being reinstated in the committee jobs. The drama was enacted at Goindwal Sahib, also referred to as 'Sikhi da Dhura.'
Those who rejected Sikhism had all remained baptised for over 20 years. Not only did they abandon the religion, they also announced that due to the indifferent attitude of the S.G.P.C. they, along with families, had decided to join Christianity. 'From now on, we are Christians,' they announced in chorus.
The development comes soon after the S.G.P.C.'s announcement of spending crores on 'dharam parchar' in its budget. Earlier, 30 Sikhs from the same area had turned to Christianity. Those who rebelled today were all employed in Gurdwara Bawli Sahib, Goindwal, since 1985 and were expelled by the S.G.P.C. in 2003.
Led by former granthi of Gudwara Bawli Sahib, Ranjit Singh, the 56 Sikhs today abandoned their kirpan, kara and other articles signifying the faith and placed these in front of pictures of the 10 Gurus. They said they were leaving the Sikh community due to the unhealthy approach of the S.G.P.C. that still believed in classes in the religion, like Jat Sikhs and Mazhabi Sikhs.
'As we are Mazhabis, we are discriminated against and that is also why we were expelled,' alleged Ranjit Singh and another rebel Kashmir Singh.
They said though the conversion from Sikhism to Christianity was like suicide, the S.G.P.C. had forced them to commit the act by not hearing their appeal for reinstatement.
One Balwinder Kaur announced in front of mediapersons that they would replace the suffixes 'Singh' and 'Kaur' with 'Masih.' She said: 'Our families will now look for marriages among the Christian community and conduct the ceremonies according to their traditions.'
'We will meet Christian religious authorities to formally join the faith. We will also build a church at Goindwal Sahib,' she said, accusing the S.G.P.C. of discrimination against Mazhabi Sikhs.
[S.G.P.C. President] Bibi Jagir Kaur condemned the incident and termed it as a blackmail attempt. She said, 'They were never Sikhs, as Sikhism preaches sacrifice and honesty.' 'Probably they had joined Sikhism only for jobs. When expelled, they shifted to Christianity for the same purpose.' The incident would not affect Sikhism or the 'dharam parchar' movement, she added.