From freedom struggle to political stage From freedom struggle to political stage Amrita Chaudhry Monday , April 16, 2007 Ludhiana, April 15: The Naamdharis, better known as the Kukas, take the credit for starting India's first freedom struggle in 1857, a month before the Sepoy Mutiny. This movement gradually transformed into a sect, which, in the last few years, has gained a lot of political importance. While in the last regime, member of the community HS Hanspal was chosen the PPCC chief, now SAD Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is wooing the Kukas by announcing a state function on the 150th anniversary of the movement. Interestingly, at the function organised today at Bhaini Sahib, the spiritual centre of the sect, the Chief Minister shared the stage with controversial Nihang chief Ajit Singh Poohla, VHP president Ashok Singhal and leaders of the Shiv Sena. The Kukas call Satguru Jagjit Singh their 12th Sikh Guru, against the basic tenets of the Sikhism. Dr Kehar Singh, a Sikh scholar, tracing the Kuka movement, says, "This contradiction of Kukas with Sikhism will always remain. As per Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh was the last Guru. They also practice rituals which are not part of Sikhism. However, the Kukas have contributed a lot to the nationalistic movement, Gurbani recitation, sports, classical music, agriculture and health services." "As far as the CM wooing them is concerned, all I can say is that he is trying to project himself as a leader of all Punjabis and not just the Sikhs," he adds. Dr Gurtej Singh, another Sikh scholar, says, "The Akalis courting the Kukas shows that they are trying to attract all communities as they have lost their Sikh base." He says, "I have the letters written by the first Naamdhari Guru, Guru Ram Singh, in which he has announced that he is not Guru and the Guru Granth Sahib is the only Sikh Guru. However, after he passed away, the Kukas have spent all their time consolidating the 'Gurudom'. In this process, they have established the titles like 'Guru Gadhi' and 'Sache Patshah'." Lambasting Akalis, Patiala-based scholar Dr Balkar Singh says, "By holding a state function, the Akalis have accepted their (Kuka's) version of Sikhism."