Gyani Gurbachan Singh, jathedar of Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs, today announced the decision to excommunicate Harinder Sikka, producer of controversial film Nanak Shah Fakir, from the Sikh Panth.
The decision was taken at a meeting of jathedars of the five Takhts, a day before the release of the film which is based on life of the first Sikh Guru. The meeting was called after Sikka refused to abide by orders of the Akal Takht to withdraw the movie from cinemas.The announcement about the excommunication was made later.
Earlier, the Akal Takht had imposed a ban on the release of ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, after it contended that showing Sikh gurus in living form cannot be permitted. “…And the issue relating to human beings playing the role of the Guru and his family has not been addressed in the movie,” the Akal Takht jathedar had said earlier.
Meanwhile, all institutions being run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), apex religious body of the Sikhs, will remain closed tomorrow as a mark of protest against the film’s release.
SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal today said that the SGPC was duty bound to comply with the directive of the Sikh clergy on the issue. “An appeal has been made to the Sikhs to observe a peaceful protest against the movie,” he said. They have also been asked to wear black turbans as a mark of protest.
On April 10, the Supreme Court had criticised SGPC, for imposing restrictions on the film and cleared the decks for its nationwide release. The top court had said that once the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) grants certification to a movie, there cannot be any kind of obstruction for its exhibition.
Even today, the SGPC made two unsuccessful attempts in the apex court to stall its release. Sikka, a retired Naval officer, had approached the apex court claiming that the SGPC had recently banned the release of film which is based on the life and teachings of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, even after the CBFC cleared it on March 28.
In 2015, the producers of the film had decided to withdraw the movie from cinema halls across the country and other parts of the world after protests from religious Sikh groups.
A month ago, the film producers again announced the movie’s release for April 13 after which various Sikh outfits started raising objections seeking a ban on the grounds that depiction of Sikh gurus and other historic Sikh figures in films is considered blasphemous.