- News - Thursday 31st May 2007 -Peaceful Sikh march against dera today
Appreciating the firm resolve to continue the social boycott of Dera Sacha Sauda as envisaged in the one-page Gurmata issued by Sikh clergy from Akal Takht yesterday, various Sikh organisations have promised a peaceful protest march from historic Fatehgarh Sahib tomorrow.
The protesters would recite Gurbani during the peaceful march from the historic Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj to Gurdwara Jyoti Sarup before an 11-member delegation would proceed to the Raj Bhavans of Punjab and Haryana. Here, they would submit copies of the memoranda, demanding expediting the investigations against the activities of the dera and its chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh.
While the Punjab government has issued strict instructions to district administrations of both Fatehgarh Sahib and Mohali to maintain peace, communal harmony and order, various Sikh organisations, too, have appealed their followers to avoid carrying lathis or swords.
“Since we have promised thee people of Punjab in our election manifesto to ensure peace and development, we will follow the Gurmata in its letter and spirit and allow the Sikh sangat to register its protest in a democratic and peaceful manner without allowing saboteurs a field day,” said Harcharan Bains, media adviser to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Against the original edict of a peaceful procession from Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh, the procession would now be from one historic gurdwara to another, after which the Sikh sangat would disburse. Sources said Punjab government had considered the other option of allowing the entire procession to come to Chandigarh. However, this was considered “unrealistic” as anti-social elements could use the occasion to disrupt the peace, create mayhem and chaos to embarrass the government as well as defeat the purpose of the peaceful protest as envisaged in the Gurmata.
Hence, a decision was taken that a symbolic protest march would be organised after which only the delegation would proceed to Chandigarh to submit copies of the memorandum to the two governors.
While the Punjab government has issued strict instructions to the district administrations of both Fatehgarh Sahib and Mohali to maintain peace, communal harmony and order, various Sikh organisations, too, have issued appeals to their followers to avoid carrying lathis or swords.
“ The Gurmata issued by Akal Takht is the best thing to happen. It is the only way out. Now when the entire nation has accepted the apology tendered by the dera, a peaceful fight can continue for the social boycott of the dera and its followers,” says former chairman of the national commission for minorities and Rajya Sabha member Tarlochan Singh. Tarlochan Singh had played the role of a peacemaker throughout the controversy and acted as a resource person for the all-religion delegation.
“It is more of a religious procession which has to be peaceful to give a strong and firm message to those who have been resorting to blasphemous activities, including imitating Sikh Gurus and sacred Sikh ceremonies,” remarked Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Lok Sabha member from Sangrur.
“Strength lies in unity and peaceful protest. It is indeed creditable that the Gurmata of the Jathedars has been appreciated by various Sikh organisations, including the Damdami Taksal, the Dal Khalsa and the Akal Federation, besides various factions of the Shiromani Akali Dal.”
Appreciating the Gurmata issued from Akal Takht, Dhindsa said that it not only was in accordance with the Sikh ethos and respected the sentiments of the followers of this modern religion but also held a stern warning to the dera which had been “sacrilegious” in some of its recent actions.
“It is all the more creditable as both the Sikh high priests and the Punjab government headed by Parkash Singh Badal have handled this highly explosive controversy with great tact and firmness. Communal harmony, peace and order were not allowed to be disturbed throughout the controversy,” said Dhindsa.
Appreciating the restraint exercised by people in Punjab, he said that they had given a strong message to the rest of the world that by remaining peaceful, they had forced the dera to relent and tender an apology.
Punjab pradesh Congress committee chief Shamsher Singh Dullo and leader of the opposition in the Vidhan Sabha Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also maintained that a “peaceful resolve is the need of the hour. No one should be allowed to disturb the hard-earned peace, communal harmony and order in the state.”
They also held that they would support all those initiatives which were for the maintenance of peace and law and order in the state.
Sources in the Punjab government also reiterated that “peace will be maintained at all costs.”
Security personnel in adequate strength will be deployed at Fatehgarh Sahib and along the route of the procession tomorrow to ensure that the event passes off peacefully. All necessary precautionary steps have been taken.
Villagers seek action against dera followers
A large number of residents of Mangwal village, led by sarpanch Bachittar Singh, yesterday met the deputy commissioner and submitted a memorandum to him. They requested him to take action against dera followers who on May 28 had filed a “false” application with the police on the pretext that a few villagers had fired and burst crackers at their houses.
The sarpanch said the deputy commissioner had assured them to enquire into the matter and initiate legal proceedings in this regard.
No politician in religious team
No politician will be part of the Sikh religious delegation that will hand over memorandums regarding the Dera Sacha Sauda issue to the Punjab and Haryana Governors here tomorrow. “It is a religious issue and is being dealt with by the Sikh religious personalities”, said a senior Akali leader.
Shormani Akali Dal (Amritsar) seeks Mann’s release
Members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today held a meeting at Gurdwara Mehal Mubarak here and submitted a memorandum to the local SDM demanding the release of president of the SAD (A) Simranjit Singh Mann, along with 20 others, and the arrest of the head of Dera Sacha Sauda for hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikhs. They also demanded the closure of all deras of the Sacha Sauda sect and strict legal proceedings against the killers of Kanwaljit Singh who had died on May 17 in the firing at Sunam.
The meeting was addressed, among others, by two general secretaries of the SAD (A) Dhayan Singh Mand and Ram Singh, president of the kisan wing of the party Satnam Singh Behru, SGPC member Nirmal Singh Gharachon, district president of the party Jeet Singh Alloarkh and district president of the Muslim wing of the party Wazir Khan. All speakers asked the state government to initiate harsh steps, including arrest of the dera head and closure of all deras, against the Dera Sacha Sauda in the larger interests of the state.
2,000 cops deployed
The administration is making hectic parleys to limit the gathering in the procession to prevent any untoward incident.
Over 2,000 policemen, drawn from various districts of the state, and 10 duty magistrates have been deputed in Fatehgarh Sahib to prevent any untoward incident during the procession.
Patiala zone IG M.K. Tiwari said the police had made adequate arrangements to maintain peace. There were no directions from the government to prevent anyone from proceeding towards Fatehgarh tomorrow for participating in the proposed march. Security had been provided to all deras of the Sacha Suada sect in the area, he said. The Sikh high priests would gather at Dewan Todar Mal Hall of Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara at about 9 am tomorrow.
Officials of the SGPC here were making arrangements to receive a huge gathering. They were expecting a gathering of over 1 lakh people in the procession.
Protest march: SGPC wants to shorten route
Even as the SGPC has decided to cut short the route of the protest march, which was proposed to be taken from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh tomorrow, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) headed by Parmjit Singh Sarna, a section of Sant Samaj and a few Panthic factions have announced that they would stick to the original route.
The rival Akali factions, including a few Panthic organisations, have announced that “come what may they would reach Chandigarh” and won’t stop at Fatehgarh Sahib as decided by the SGPC. Sarna said they would proceed towards Chandigarh despite heavy police deployment. Khalsa spokesman Kanwarpal Singh said the Damdami Taksal and SAD (A) would also reach Chandigarh at all costs.
The protest march is being taken out on the directions of the Sikh clergy, against the blasphemous acts of dera chief. It is learnt that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the SAD’s working president had conveyed to the SGPC chief that the proposed march should conclude at Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup in Fatehgarh Sahib lest it should be “hijacked” by hardliners. The SGPC secretary asked the Sikhs not to display any weapon during the protest march against the dera. As per the changed programme, the SGPC would take delegation, led by Shiromani Committee’s chief to meet the Governors of Punjab and Haryana.
However, while talking to The Tribune, the DSGMC chief said the Damdami Taksal, Sant Samaj and various Panthic factions were determined to take out the protest march up to Chandigarh as already announced. The sources pointed out that Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti initially opposed shortening of the route.
Meanwhile, American Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee President Yadvinder Singh and its coordinator Pritpal Singh appreciated the stand taken by the Sikh clergy against the dera.
Damdami Taksal spokesman Bhai Mohkam Singh said the Akal Takht Jathedar should stick to the original programme of taking out the protest march from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh.