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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Punjab - Inside how the False Dera was Won

How the dera was won
Tribune News Service

A lot of cajoling and a little bit of arm-twisting, coupled with a “nudge” by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda were the weapons that the three-officer team, led by commissioner of Rohtak and Hisar divisions N.C. Wadhwa, had to use to persuade the Dera Sacha Sauda to apologise to Guru Gobind Singh last night, paving the way for restoration of peace in Punjab.
Informed sources say the Haryana Government decided to step in after the Sarv Dharam delegation, led by Swami Agnivesh, failed to “extract” an apology from the Dera. In fact, the dera men were so angry with the Swami that at one stage they had decided not to participate in any peace negotiations. The cause of their anger was the “pre-mature and one-sided” announcement by the Swami that the dera had agreed to apologise.
The sources say Hooda, who is in bereavement in Rohtak following his elder brother's death, asked Wadhwa to rush to Sirsa, the headquarters of the dera, and persuaded its men to create conditions for the restoration of peace in Punjab in “national interest”. Wadhwa's brief was: “Don't come to Rohtak unless you make the Dera see reason”.
Wadhwa was the right person for the delicate job. Not only is he an officer who does not lose his cool easily, he is also aware of the “weaknesses” of the Dera, with which he had frequent interaction during the days when he was the Director, Town and Country Planning. The sources say there are many buildings in the Dera, which are not strictly according to the law.
Wadhwa was assisted by D.C. and S.P. of Sirsa, V. Umashankar and Vikas Arora, respectively. The seven-member Dera delegation included Dr Aditya Arora, Dr Prithviraj Nain, Mohan Singh, Jasbir Singh and Ram Karan. Mohan Singh was the person who had often met Wadhwa to get certain buildings of the Dera regularised during the latter's stint as Director, Town and Country Planning.
The talks spread over three hours on May 26, which Wadhwa had to use his "persuasive skills" to the hilt. The Dera men had certain reservations. First they expressed their anger against Swami Agnivesh. Wadhwa told them that he and his colleagues had nothing to do with the Swami. They had been sent by the Haryana Chief Minister to try to find a solution to the problem, which was threatening the peace and security of the entire country.
The Dera men were told that it was in the larger interest of the followers of the Dera that peace should prevail in Punjab. The Dera men wanted some time before making a firm commitment. They were apprehensive that the gathering at the Bhog ceremony of Kanwaljit held in Punjab yesterday might turn violent. Kanwaljit was killed in clash outside the dera in Sunam. The Dera men also wanted to take their "Sangat", which was to meet on May 27 in confidence.
When no response came from the Dera during the day yesterday, Chief Secretary Prem Prashant conveyed to the Dera men that if they did not respond in a positive manner, he would tell his officers to withdraw from the negotiation table.
The Dera men immediately got in touch with Hooda, who advised them to act in national interest and not to complicate the situation further.
After that the Dera men conveyed to Wadhwa through a Punjab MLA, who is closely related to the Dera chief, that a statement, the wording of which had already been agreed upon by them, would be relased to the press in the evening after the "Sangat" would disperse.

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