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Dera chief apologises

Monday 28 May 2007

`To Guru Gobind Singh’

CHANDIGARH: Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has apologised, stating that he never intended to imitate Guru Gobind Singh and cause anguish to his brethren in the Sikh community.

Reports from the Dera headquarters at Sirsa in Haryana said he tendered his apology to Guru Gobind Singh and not to the Akal Takht, which has been directing the protests by the Sikh organisations.

Sources said emissaries from the Union and Haryana Governments, as well as representatives of a former Haryana Chief Minister, succeeded in persuading the Baba and Dera management to come forward with a simple apology, which they felt would cool the tempers among the Sikh community and lead to a permanent solution to the impasse.

Clerics to discuss

A spokesman of the Akal Takht in Amritsar said the apex "Singh Sahibs" (clerics) of the community would deliberate on the apology on May 29. They would, however, wait for the written text of the apology letter before making any comment.

According to sources close to Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, no announcement on the already declared programmes could be expected immediately.

After a congregation at the Akal Takht on May 20, the Singh Sahibs called for a complete boycott of the Dera chief and the sect’s followers. They had served an ultimatum on the Government to vacate and seal all premises of the Dera by May 27, as Gurmeet Singh had indulged in "unprecedented blasphemy" by imitating the dress and activities of Guru Gobind Singh.

Secretary of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, D.S. Cheema, who is also the Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, said they would prefer to wait for directions from the Akal Takht.

`Positive step’

The former chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Tarlochan Singh, has described the development as positive step. He appealed to the Sikh clergy and the community at large to accept the apology in the true spirit so that the atmosphere of confrontation and tension is defused in the overall interests of all.

On the other hand, radical organisations, such as the Dal Khalsa International, have rejected the development. They demanded the arrest of the Dera chief and not an apology.

They appealed to the Union, Punjab and Haryana Governments to fulfil their duties by taking action against the Dera chief as per law.

Party spokesman Kanwarpal Singh said the Government should not allow the apology from the Baba to become a shield against his violation of law.

While the Akal Takht would decide the religious aspect and pronounce its verdict on the future course of action, the Government should not shy away from its duty in allowing law to take its own course. The Dera chief was booked for murder, rape and hurting religious sentiments. He was also responsible for the turmoil in Punjab in the last two weeks in which one person lost his life and dozens sustained injuries, Mr. Singh said.

See online : The Hindu

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