The May 27 deadline set by the Sikh clergy for the vacation of all Deras expires Sunday. The Akal Takht, the supreme temporal body of the Sikhs, has issued an ultimatum saying if their demands are not met, they will file a memorandum to the governor of Punjab.
The dispute triggered by Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's alleged insult to the tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh is now snowballing into bigger crisis. No apology has yet been given by the Dera for this act as demanded by the Sikhs.
The head priests of the 5 main Gurduwaras will gather at Fatehgarh Sahib on May 31 and lead a procession to Chandigarh. The Akal Takht is expected to come out with the next course of action on the same day. Security forces are on alert across Punjab, especially in Amritsar, Sangrur and Bathinda.
Dera has over 200 centers in Punjab. The sect properties in the state, especially the 150-acre campus at Salabatpura near Bathinda, have been given tight security by Punjab Police and Border Security Force.
And as the stand-off between the Deras and the Sikhs continues, Punjab’s industry suffers losses. The Dera Sacha Sauda controversy has worst affected tourism and realty sectors.
The tussle between Sikhs and Dera Sacha Sauda has scared tourists into canceling their bookings. “People are scared because of this controversy. The big corporate houses have even cancelled their bookings,” said Vikram Singh, General Manager, Hotel Grand Legacy, Amritsar.
The other big loser is the real estate sector. “Our business has been hit hard because of this Sacha controversy. People are backing out,” said Sukhjinder Singh, Director, Whiterock Builders Private Ltd.
Thanks to NRI investments, real estate business in Punjab has seen a boom over the last couple of years. However, the recent tension followed by widespread violence in the area the prospects of further investments seem to be wiping out. Ruling party Akali Dal's working president Sukhbir Singh Badal showed concern over the growing trouble.
The Parkash Singh Badal government has assured peace will be maintained at all costs. However the recent violence is making investors rethink further investments.