January 3, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Amritsar Sahib: A portrait of former Jathedar Shri Akal Takhat Sahib Gurdev Singh Kaunke will be installed at the Central Sikh Museum in Darbar Sahib complex in Amritsar, 25 years after he was subjected to enforced disappearance by Punjab Police.
“This decision is said to have taken by former Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Kirpal Singh Badungar when he was incumbent”, reads the statement of SGPC member Gurcharan Singh Grewal, published in an English vernacular.
Gurdev Singh Kaunke who studied at Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal, was born in 1949 at Kaunke Kalan village in Jagraon subdivision of Ludhiana district. He was appointed as acting jathedar of the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs with the support of pro freedom groups during a “Sarbat Khalsa” (Sikh congregation) held on January 26, 1986, when militancy was at its peak in Punjab.
Furthermore, during that assembly the delegation of “Sarbat Khalsa” announced Jasbir Singh Rode as the Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib. He was imprisoned during his appointment, therefore the delegation assigned Gurdev Singh Kaunke to serve as the acting Jathedar.
On April 29, 1986, the Panthic Committee held a press conference at the Darbar Sahib complex and declared self-determination. Soon after the declaration, all members of the Panthic Committee escaped. Subsequently, the police and army surrounded the premises and arrested Gurdev Singh Kaunke.
Apparently, Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke was harassed by Punjab Police for his alleged support to pro-freedom groups. The Akal Takht Sahib building — that was damaged during Indian military invasion in June 1984— was rebuilt during his tenure.
He was again arrested in 1993 and his whereabouts are not known since then. Sikh advocacy groups allege that he was subjected to enforced disappearance, reads the quote from a statement published in Hindustan Times (HT).