Division in ‘Budhha Dal’

Division in ‘Budhha Dal’

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

Following his controversial role in the so-called Kar Seva of the Sri Akal Takht Sahib Ji, Jathedar
Santa Singh, the Budhha Dal chief, was excommunicated from the Khalsa
. Ordinarily under these circumstances, the individual concerned is obliged to present themselves in front of the Sri Akal Takht Sahib should they seek readmission into the Panth. Santa Singh however refused to appear before Sri Akal Takht Sahib Ji.

Jathedar Santa Singh

The authority of Sri Akal Takht Sahib Ji to summon the Budhha Dal
chief was questioned by Santa Singh’s group of Nihangs. Sikh scholars had to tackle these
points, which were although baseless, were well propagated well planned by the Budhha Dal of Santa Singh.

Not all Nihangs however, supported the actions of Jathedar Santa Singh. A few of Nihang chiefs in particular considered his actions to be extremely iniquitous. This resulted in confusion amongst the Nihang ranks however no one dared to publicly oppose Jathedar Santa Singh.

This was a tense time. A few of Nihangs organized a meeting
to resolve the issue, because some people had begun to degrade Nihangs. (As this
was a Gupt {secret} meeting, in which a few Nihangs took part. I shall not be discussing the details here).

When they could not reach a unanimous decision, Baba Balbir
Singh Akali, a young Nihang, revolted against Jathedar Santa Singh. The Budhha
was divided into two groups. Baba Balbir Singh Akali led the
separating faction.

Baba Balbir Singh Akali with others

The Budhha Dal under the command of Baba Balbir Singh Akali received
formal recognition from the Sri Akal Takht Sahib Ji and the SGPC.
Thereafter, on various religious functions and processions, Baba Balbir Singh
Akali would participate as the Budhha Dal Chief.

Meanwhile Jathedar Santa Singh was on the hit list of many Sikh militants.
The Central Reserve Police Force was deployed for his security. I have
personally witnessed on a number of occasions Santa Singh surrounded by non-Sikh
Police men. It was a satire of the time that a group, which styled itself as Guru Kee Laadlee Fauj (the beloved army of Guru), required the
protection of non-Sikh policemen.

The occupation of Gurdwaras belonging to the Budhha Dal by Baba
Balbir Singh�s faction of Nihangs incensed those who had continued to align
themselves with Jathedar Santa Singh, resulting in clashes between the two groups.

Property disputes between the two groups were taken to the judicial courts. The famous Gurdwara Guru Ka Baag in the historic city of Sri
Anandpur Sahib Ji
is one such example, which is now occupied by Baba Balbir
Singh Akali. The court gave its verdict in favour of Baba Balbir Singh Akali,
however an appeal in the High Court is still pending.

I personally believe that Baba Balbir Singh Akali won this court case, solely
because he was recognised by the Sri Akal Takht Sahib Ji. There is no
controversy over the ownership of Gurdwara. It is accepted that it belongs to
the Budhha Dal. The question is rather �who is the leader of Budhha
?� This is what the Judicial system needs to conclude with supporting

Baba Balbir Singh Akali is known to have submitted both written and other
forms of evidence for him to be considered as the Budhha Dal chief.

Following this, Jathedar Santa Singh sought to appear before the Sri Akal
Takht Sahib
. The five head priests discussed his petition for apology. On
March 17, 2001, Jathedar Santa Singh presented himself before the Sri Akal
Takht Sahib
and accepted the Tankhah (punishment for religious
misconduct) pronounced by Giani Joginder Singh, Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht
, from the rostrum of the Sri Akal Takht Sahib Ji.

Giani Joginder Singh
Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib Ji

After 17 years of his excommunication, Jathedar Santa Singh completed his Tankhah.

At present, the Budhha Dal is in Charhdi Kala (high spirits)
once again, under the leadership of Jathedar Santa Singh. The old glory of
Nihangs can be witnessed once more during the Hola Mahalla and other
festivals and processions. Whilst other Nihang organisations may have begun to
recognise Jathedar Santa Singh as the Chief of the Budhha Dal, Baba
Balbir Singh Akali and his group still do not.

Note: Recently, the Budhha Dal’s faction under Baba Balbir Singh has been merged with the Budhha Dal of Jathedar Santa Singh. Thus, Budhha Dal (Baba Balbir Singh) no longer exists as an independant faction.