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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Punjab - Breaking News - The latest

Dera silence stalls peace bid Agnivesh seeks help of PM, Sonia
Tribune News Service
Efforts for a peaceful settlement of the unsavoury dera controversy appear to have run into a stonewall with the dera leadership refusing to acknowledge any communication from the all-religion delegation led by Swami Agnivesh since last night.
Though the Supreme Court refused to intervene on two separate petitions moved by Dera Sacha Sauda against the edict of Akal Takht, Swami Agnivesh has reportedly written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and chairperson of the UPA Sonia Gandhi seeking their immediate intervention to prevent any confrontation between “premis” — followers of the dera — and the Sikh community.
Swami Agnivesh has given the entire background and efforts made by the all-religion delegation to end the sensitive controversy through dialogue between leaders of the Sikh community and the Sirsa-based dera.
He feels that any delay in intervention may be detrimental to peace and communal harmony in the region.
With the deadline given by the Akal Takht edict drawing near and the dera refusing to communicate any further with the all-religion delegation, the worries of the union government as well as the state governments of both Punjab and Haryana are multiplying every minute.
Swami Agnivesh says the “problem needs to be tackled urgently and immediately” as the edict of Akal Takht calls for the vacation of all deras of Sacha Sauda in Punjab by May 27. He wants the union government and the UPA to use their good offices to prevail upon the dera chief to tender an “unqualified apology” to assuage the hurt feelings of the Sikh community over his alleged “imitation of the 10th Sikh Guru” besides the replication of certain historic and sacred ceremonies like baptism.
Only last night, the dera had made it clear that it had neither sent any draft or message to either the all-religion delegation or Swami Agnivesh conveying its intention to tender an “unqualified apology”.
Though Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and director-general of police N.P.S. Aulakh made categorical statements that life and property of all Punjabis would be secured and no one would be allowed to disturb peace in the state, the dera leadership continues to be apprehensive of the safety of its followers in Punjab.
The sudden halt in the peace efforts has come as a shock to both the Punjab government and the union government as both were hopeful that the all-religion delegation would work out a peaceful and acceptable solution to the controversy.
While the Punjab government and the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal continue to hope that a peaceful solution would be worked out, the union government is expected to step up its own efforts to convince the dera leadership of the need for “defusing rather than aggravating the present crisis”. The worry of the union government as well as the Punjab government also stems from the fact that a failure of the peace process would allow fundamentalists and hardcore elements among Sikh organisations to wrest the initiative from the moderate religious leadership.

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