Top Nihang Sikh sect chief passes away

May 9th, 2008 - 7:38 am ICT by admin  

Patiala (Punjab), May 8 (IANS) Sikh sect Nihang’s Buddha Dal chief Baba Santa Singh, who led the reconstruction ‘kar sewa’ (voluntary service) inside the Golden Temple after the 1984 Operation Bluestar by the army, passed away in this Punjab town Thursday evening. Santa Singh, 85, was ailing for the past few months. He died at the Rajindra Hospital here. He was the 13th Nihang chief and took over reins of the sect in 1968.

Balbir Singh has been named the new chief of the Buddha Dal, a unique sect of Nihang (Warrior) Sikhs who trace their origin to the 10th Sikh guru, Gobind Singh.

Santa Singh was roped in by the central government in 1984 to carry out ‘kar sewa’, or voluntary service, inside the damaged Golden Temple complex in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar after the Indian Army fought there with heavily armed terrorists holed up inside the complex.

He was excommunicated from the Sikh panth or religion for undertaking the service. He was exonerated of the charge by the Sikh clergy only in 2001.

He handed over reins of the sect to Balbir Singh October last year. But the transition became a bloody affair with rival groups killing four relatives of the new Budha Dal chief in a shootout at the sect campus here last year.

The police have made tight security arrangements for the cremation of Santa Singh Friday following tension between rival groups of the sect.

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