Govts heave sigh of relief
Tribune News Service
After a fortnight of war of nerves between Jathedars of various Takhts of Sikhs and the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda, peace, communal harmony and universal brotherhood got a fillip this evening when the dera tendered apology to the 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.
The apology, which the dera was initially reluctant to tender maintaining that it has never attempted or cannot even think of imitating great Sikh gurus, coincided with the deadline set by the Jathedars of five Takhts for today to seek closure of all branches of the dera in Punjab.
The entire nation watched with apt attention as which of two parties involved in this grave controversy would blink first. And the dera chose to do so in the interest of maintenance of peace and for communal harmony.
The apology had a substantial section of Sikh masses jubilant while the Jathedars of the Takhts and the Punjab Government were awaiting details of the statement issued by the Dera before reacting.
It, however, made the union government and the Punjab and Haryana governments heave a major sigh of relief as, sources said, it would go a long way in assuaging the hurt caused to the Sikh sangat by the dera actions.
“Apology is an apology and if tendered to the founder of the Khalsa panth, it becomes all the more significant and valuable,” commented a senior officials.
The apology, though strategically worded by avoiding reference to either the highest Sikh temporal seat of Akal Takht or the edict given by the jathedars of all five Takhts, came in the form of a Press statement issued by the dera late this evening.
The dera and its leadership has been under tremendous pressure not only from the union government besides the Punjab and Haryana governments to defuse the crisis generated by its May 13 advertisement in various newspapers which put the Punjab on boil with the Sikh organizations describing it outrageously blasphemous.
Subsequently, the Sarbat Khalsa convened at Talwandi Sabo asked Sikhs to socially boycott “premis”, the followers of the Dera, besides setting May 27 as the deadline for closure of all deras (branches) of Sacha Sauda in Punjab.
Besides the all-religion delegation headed by Swami Agnivesh of the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, behind the scene efforts were made by the Union Government and the Haryana Government to persuade the dera to tender unqualified apology and defuse the unsavoury controversy which otherwise threatened to blow into a major communal conflict.
At one stage, dera and its followers were adamant to tender any “unqualified apology” maintaining that they have already expressed “regrets” over the unsavoury controversy, but continuous pressure from all sides made them relent. At the end of its monthly congregation at the dera headquarters in Sirsa, it issued half-page apology written in Hindi.
The Punjab Government’s handling of the situation also came for praise not only from the Punjab and Haryana High Court but also from the centre as the “explosive situation” was aptly handled by maintaining law and order, maintaining throughout that no one would be allowed to disturb peace, communal harmony and order in the State.
Besides the all-religion delegation, other persons who played the role of peacemaker included Haryana Rajya Sabha member Tarlochan Singh and Congress MLA from Bathinda, Harminder Singh Jassi, a relation of Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh.