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Nothing short of Dera chief’s arrest will do, say Sikh outfits

Sunday 27 May 2007

Staff Correspondent

Night patrols and setting up check-posts on major roads ordered for bhog

`VIP treatment’ to Baba questioned Sikh leadership cautioned

CHANDIGARH: Efforts to bring about a rapprochement between Sikh organisations and the Dera Sacha Sauda appear to have hit a roadblock with some radical outfits declaring that an apology from Dera chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh would not be enough to assuage the feelings of the community.

On the eve of the expiry of the ultimatum from the Akal Takht, supreme religious body of the Sikhs, which sought the vacation and sealing off of all Dera premises by May 27, organisations such as the Damdami Taksal and the Dal Khalsa said that nothing less than the arrest of the Baba, whose certain activities were termed as blasphemous, would be acceptable.

The State Government on Saturday tightened the security cover, ordering night patrols and setting up check-posts on major roads. The police and paramilitary forces were instructed to prevent the brandishing of unsheathed swords, carrying of sharp-edged weapons and firearms. Preventive detention of "miscreants" was not ruled out.

The measures were taken in view of Sunday’s `bhog’ ceremony of Kamaljit Singh in Sunam town of Sangrur district.

He succumbed to gunshot injuries during a clash with Dera supporters on May 18. Representatives of all Sikh organisations were expected to attend the ceremony, where the radicals could also announce their next course of action.

Damdami Taksal, a religious seminary once led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, said that as the Dera had sought to resolve the matter through legal means by approaching the Supreme Court it was now the duty of the Governments to perform their duties as per law, especially when serious cases were registered against the Dera chief.

Kanwar Pal Singh, Dal Khalsa International spokesman, said that keeping in view the Akal Takht’s directive, calling for a complete boycott of the Dera and its followers, an apology holds no water. Hitting out at those "wrongly" portraying the anguish of Sikhs, he said: "Why is the Baba being given VIP treatment when already three criminal cases, including that of rape and murder, are pending against him?"

The International Human Rights Organisation has cautioned the Sikh leadership, including Jathedar of the Akal Takht, against compromising the interests of the people, especially the Sikhs, while striking any peace pact under the garb of apology from the Dera chief.

The organisation asked the Centre and the Punjab and Haryana Governments to desist from diluting the Dera chief’s crime and demanded that he be prosecuted under the law of the land for the charges he already faced.

In 1981, Sant Bhindranwale had also surrendered when he was wanted by the police in the murder cases of Nirankari Baba Gurbachan Singh and Lala Jagat Narain, it said.

See online : The Hindu

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