A Sikh tele-drama?

[Joint post by Singh and Reema]

The plot is thick. Nearly 100 million Phillipine pesos are at stake (roughly $ 2.2 million USD). Multiple groups of god-father like figures control entourages of loyal henchmen. Money is being used for unauthorized purposes, and powerful figures have put competitors out of play – risking not just the money, but [dun dun dun]…their lives!
manila_khalsa_diwan.jpg
Is this:

(a) The set of Al Capone?

(b) A government paramilitary force under a dictatorship?

(c) The Punjab Police?

(d) Or is it just the story of a gurdwara?

You guessed it: the answer is (d)!

This is the set for the latest episode of “Who Wants to be a Pardhaan (President of the Gurdwara),” and it takes place in Manila, where a battle for control of the local guru ghar has been waged for years. We had heard of this type of thing being publicized in the West (Europe and the Americas), but why should the Phillipines be any different – and undoubtedly this story has just as much drama and un-Sikh-like behavior as any we have heard. It goes something like this:

2004: Bansal became Gurdwara president following a court-supervised elections. After coming into power, he looked into organizations assets and found that Amardeeps group (the old committee) had siphoned off P30.6 million from Gurdwara donations to a new corporation they had createdKhalsa Diwan (Sikh Religious Association) Inc.

2005: Bansal said Amardeeps group had unaccounted cash balances from 2000 to 2004 amounting to P30.6 million. He then said that “[a]s the new president then, I gave them nine months to account for the funds or to surrender to the Khalsa Diwan the properties they bought using the same funds. When they failed to comply, I decided to file the case. Then I was ambushed. Amardeep’s group put the smack down on Bansal.

2006: Bansal states, “I was about to call for an election in 2006 before I was ambushed. Instead of facing me in an election, they [Amardeeps group] decided to kill me. Luckily, I survived. Now when I was about to call for new elections again, the Samalsar group [a third group! and the new committee] came and grabbed power just like that…

gun.gifMeanwhile– Amardeep and some of his compadres were charged with murdering the past pardhan and attempted murder in the failed ambush on Bansal. Of the eight suspects, Amardeep and one other are in jail. Bansal was shot in the neck, but survived and later identified the suspects.

2008: Eventually, Samalsar & Co. (new committee) took over the Gurdwara in a fake election on May 9 – shoving out Bansal.

But the story doesn’t end here… On Sept. 18, an unidentified man left an envelope at the parking lot of the condominium where Bansal lives, with a letter saying that Bansal would be killed.

Forced to stay at a safehouse in Quezon City, Bansal told a local newspaper that he believed he was being targeting again because he opposed the Gurdwara’s new leadership under Samalsar…(Really? Does he really think so?)

In case you couldn’t keep all the above juicy tid-bits straight, don’t worry – we don’t get it all either, but just in case they help – some salient points of the story:

  • There is no record of there ever being an actual MEETING of the general members of the gurdwara.
  • Bansal himself suffers from unclean hands – having overstayed his term (which was supposed to be for ONE year) by three years and even refusing to accept new members.
  • Bansal still claims he is the president of the Gurdwara and is trying to regain his seat (old habits die hard???)

Now we present the above plot in jest, but we do realize how sad and serious it is that the above sequence of events (or some form of it) has become so familiar to our community. This struggle for control, often fueled by money, power, and egotism is one of the biggest things that turns many people away from gurdwaras.

Maybe we need better internal disciplinary systems, or more (neutral) people participating in the political process so that elections, votes, and leadership is more democratic…? Maybe job descriptions and expectations would help?

Any other suggestions?

——

Original story here.


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10 Responses to “A Sikh tele-drama?”

  1. Harpreet says:

    I think we (specially the youths) need to participate more in Gurdwara activities and get more involved with the management. Its unfortunate that for 95% of Sangat, going to Gurdwara means..

    – Pay respect to Guru Granth Sahib

    – Listen Gurbani for 15-60 mins

    – Eat Langer and come back

    For any Gurdwara management related issues, they turn their back and say 'forget it… by getting involved into this… all I am gonna get is fight'. Well, as long as we don't start taking responsibility, that 4% of us are going to be in control of Gurdwaras and remaining 1% who are working to make a difference won't be able to accomplish much.

    For how long we just gonna sit and discuss the Gurdwara situations, blame on managements that they aren't doing good job?? When we are going to take a step up and try to make change??

  2. Harpreet says:

    I think we (specially the youths) need to participate more in Gurdwara activities and get more involved with the management. Its unfortunate that for 95% of Sangat, going to Gurdwara means..
    – Pay respect to Guru Granth Sahib
    – Listen Gurbani for 15-60 mins
    – Eat Langer and come back

    For any Gurdwara management related issues, they turn their back and say ‘forget it… by getting involved into this… all I am gonna get is fight’. Well, as long as we don’t start taking responsibility, that 4% of us are going to be in control of Gurdwaras and remaining 1% who are working to make a difference won’t be able to accomplish much.

    For how long we just gonna sit and discuss the Gurdwara situations, blame on managements that they aren’t doing good job?? When we are going to take a step up and try to make change??

  3. dragon says:

    I have personally watched anf experienced the things that has happened in this particular sikh temple and you are right in your observation. From the beginning up to the end, the people who led this temple are only after money. They are uneducated, greedy and cunning criminals who are after power, money and position just as we see in local politics. The first president had his wife, brother and sister killed by professional killers coz they went against him. Bansal and the present leader are relatives who are both fighting for the top position. They have been involved in kidnapping, murder and terrorist acts. These are the modern day Bin Laden. They scare and prey on innocent people. I just hope their end would come soon as Bin Laden had. The temple is for worship and service to fellow man and not to be used as a tool for personal enrichment and usurp authority against others.
    God is watching as I am. Your end will come soon.

  4. badal says:

    Bansal and the rest of these past presidents and even the present are a bunch of greedy, power hungry crooks who never had the intention of serving God and fellow men but xpect that they should be served and be considered as Gods.

  5. iSingh says:

    Sikhs should stop making cash donations to the gurudwaras. Spirituality will return and the granthi gangs will disappear.
    Instead – donate to hundreds of charitable organizations. Sponsor a child's education in your pind, donate your land to setup a school. Pay a teacher, create jobs.

  6. rushe ssay says:

    Your education and advanced knowledge no doubt make yourself more confident and independent among the other society members and you become able to think critically about the everything in the society. With the help of education and knowledge you become enough mature to participate healthy for the progress of the society.

  7. Education use as a social organization to preserve the fundamental values of a civilization. Our modern education system has a disgusting past mainly rooted in industrialism. Its aim is to produce parsimoniously sustainable products employable citizens.

  8. Ethel Edwards says:

    Sikhism very famous religion in all over the world but they are totally different from other people and one can easily point them put due to their head in best college admission essay which has something related to their culture.But here are some interesting details about the tele-drama of Sikh community which is interesting to read and we should do it.

  9. SSC Coaching says:

    O nice information…m really impressed.. thanks for sharing with everyone.