Punjab calm, but on alert
Tribune News Service
Even as the deadline set by Akal Takht for the closure of all Dera Sacha Sauda centres expires peacefully today in Punjab and Haryana, the state will continue to be on high alert for a few more days. Parallel congregations, one of the dera at Sirsa and the other, bhog ceremony of Kanwaljit Singh at Sangrur passed off peacefully.
Calls for peace were made as Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti advised “restraint” today. Later in the evening, dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh tendered an apology that could end the crisis. Today even the hardline Damdami Taksal advised peace. The police said it would wait for the stand taken by Akal Takht and not withdraw the entire force immediately, rather taper-off the withdrawal over a few days.
The SAD thanked the people for maintaining peace in the state. The party said Punjabis had set an example before the whole world by maintaining peace and communal harmony in the face of grave provocation. It said this had also defeated the nefarious designs of anti-Panthic, anti-Punjabi, anti-people and anti-peace forces that were out to alienate Punjabis from the rest of the country.
A police spokesman said here that state police and paramilitary personnel were on high alert in Punjab, particularly in the Malwa belt which had a sizeable number of Sacha Sauda followers.
Paramilitary forces conducted flag marches in Amritsar, Sangrur, Bathinda, Moga, Manda, Muktsar and a few other places in the state.
The spokesman said the dera at Salabatapura, which was Sacha Sauda sect’s main centre in Punjab, had virtually been cordoned off with paramilitary personnel setting up barricades all around it. There were believed to be 2000-odd Sacha Sauda followers inside the dera.
Likewise, adequate security arrangements had also been made at all other deras in the state and its important functionaries had been provided security at their homes.
The security at important gurdwaras in the state, including Golden Temple, had been further strengthened. Meanwhile, the ‘antim ardas’ ceremony of Kanwaljit Singh concluded peacefully at Sangrur. Kanwaljit was killed on May 17 during a clash between Sikhs and Sacha Sauda supporters.