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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Punjab The Latest as it comes - Akal Takht demands closure of all Deras

Randeep Singh Nandal
Sunday, May 20, 2007 (Sirsa)
The Akal Takht has issued a diktat that demands closure of all branches of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect in Punjab by May 27.They have asked for a CBI probe to be submitted to the High Court by May 30 and will approach Prime Minister Manmohan Singh if their demands are not met. The Akal Takht, which also called for a bandh on May 22, has dismissed the statement of regret expressed by the Dera.The Punjab Police meanwhile have registered an FIR against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Raheem.The FIR has been filed on a complaint by Rajinder Singh, a resident of Bathinda, for disturbing communal harmony in the state. NDTV spoke to HS Bains, the media advisor to Punjab Chief Minister, who said that everyone was equal before law and a comprehensive inquiry into the incident was being conducted.Expressing regretLate on Saturday, the Dera Sacha Sauda issued a one-page letter, expressing regret over an advertisement, which depicted their leader as a Sikh Guru.The advertisement featured the chief appearing in an attire that Sikhs felt was an attempt to compare himself with Guru Gobind Singh.In a statement, the Dera leader said, ''The events of the last few days have left us sad. Ads that appeared on May 13 led to misunderstanding, which is regrettable. We have great respect for the Sikh Gurus and religion. Our efforts were not to hurt anyone. There was never an attempt to imitate Guru Gobind Singh. We regret the events.''Though short of an outright apology, sources told NDTV:
The letter was formulated after back channel negotiation between the SGPC and Dera Sacha Sauda.
Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal acted as the mediator.The Sikhs' highest religious body had given the government three days to intervene and take action against the sect.

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