A contentious issue emerged after the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) demanded an apology from journalist Tavleen Singh following the publication of her article titled “India’s Canadian Problem” in The Sunday Express.
The SGPC accused the article of containing false propaganda against Guru Gobind Singh and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, sparking a heated debate on historical interpretations and journalistic responsibility.
Tavleen Singh’s article, published on September 24, 2023, in The Sunday Express, stirred controversy for its content related to Sikh history and personalities. The article made two specific claims that raised objections from the SGPC:
- Claim about Guru Gobind Singh: The article suggested that Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa to fight the repression of the Mughal Emperor and that he himself was a Hindu.
- Claim about Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale: The article alleged that Bhindranwale ran a reign of terror and had an efficient network of spies that silenced dissent within the Sikh community.
The SGPC, a prominent representative organization of the Sikh community, swiftly responded to Tavleen Singh’s article. They issued a formal press release demanding an apology and refuting the claims made in the article; Regarding Guru Gobind Singh: The SGPC stated that Guru Gobind Singh did not create the Khalsa for any particular religious group but for the embodiment of the Saint-Soldier spirit, devoted to the Akal Purakh, or The Timeless One. They emphasised that Guru Gobind Singh’s faith transcended labels, as evidenced by his own words: “Na Hum Hindu Na Musalman” – “I am not Hindu, nor am I a Muslim” (Guru Granth Sahib – Page 1136).
The SGPC also defended Bhindranwale’s role as a bearer of Gurmat ideology and his struggle for the rights of Punjab, including political, economic, and water issues. They cited various scholars and authors who supported their perspective in books such as “The Gallant Defender” by AR Darshi, “In the Service of Free India” by BD Pande, and statements from Subramanian Swamy.
SGPC has asked Tavleen Singh to apologise for her “malicious column” that had “demeaned and shown the Sikh community in a very bad light.” They also urged The Sunday Express to provide space for the facts presented in their letter.
Journalist Tavleen Singh took to Twitter to respond to the SGPC’s demands. In her tweet, she suggested that the SGPC should read some Sikh history books. She countered the SGPC’s stance and accused the committee of allowing the Golden Temple (Durbar Sahib) to become a refuge for killers, drawing from her personal experiences.