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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Violence erupts in Patiala, Punjab remains tense


Violence erupted in the Arya Samaj area of Patiala today due to the ongoing tension between various Sikh organisations and Dera Sacha Sauda supporters. Supporters of various Akali parties took out a protest march in the city, raising slogans against Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim.While the march was passing through Arya Samaj crossing area bricks were thrown at the protesters. The bricks hit the vehicles parked on the streets. Following this, protesters in the march went berserk. They started throwing stones, cold drink bottles and bricks at houses and shops in the locality. They also damaged vehicles and ransacked some shops and houses. A few youths were injured in this melee. The police had to resort to a mild lathi charge to disperse the protesters.Residents of Arya Samaj chowk area, however, accused the police of being soft on the protesters. The police remained a mute spectator while the protesters damaged vehicles and ransacked shops in the area, they added. It was only after the things started getting out of hand and people of the area started reacting that the police moved to stop the protesters. The shopkeepers of the area downed their shutters in protests against damage to their property. Tension also brewed on the campus of Punjabi University, Patiala, as Akali workers and supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda gathered and raised slogans. Sensing more trouble the university security officer informed the police. Due to the timely intervention of the police the situation was saved from turning ugly.

District magistrate D.S. Grewal imposed Section 144 of the CrPC, banning gathering of more than five persons at a place in the district. The DIG, Patiala range, said a case had been registered against unidentified persons who had resorted to violence in the Arya Samaj area. Reports of protests were also received from Sanor and Rajpura.The Sikh Intelligentsia Forum, Punjabi University, held a meeting here today to discus the issue of clash between SGPC men and Dera Sacha Sauda followers.Dr Kulbir Singh Dhillon, president of the forum, Prof Dalbir Singh Dhillon, patron of the forum and Harpal Singh Pannu, general secretary were present.It was decided in the meeting that a delegation of the forum should meet Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to discuss the issue.


Sikh youths brandishing swords today forced a complete bandh in Amritsar and damaged shops which were found open, even as no Sikh organisation had given a call for this. At Lawrence road, the police bundled some youths into their vehicles but they were got released by a mob. The police had a tough time throughout the day even as tension gripped the town. At most of the places the police remained a mute spectator. Most of the schools remained close following widespread protests in different parts of the city. The police had a tough time in controlling different groups.Meanwhile, Manjit Singh Calcutta, Onkar Singh Sharifpur - both SGPC members and representatives of various Sikh organisations, have announced that despite differences of opinion they would respond to any call given by Akal Takht, SGPC or SAD to curb the activities of the dera in Punjab and elsewhere. However, Calcutta held Badal responsible for mushrooming of such deras in the state. Calcutta said if the Sikh clergy, SAD and SGPC failed to give an appropriate action programme at Talwandi Sabo tomorrow, the Panth would itself spearhead the agitation.

Fatehgarh Sahib

Hundreds of activists of various Sikh organisations, led by Karnail Singh Panjoli, SGPC member, organised a protest march against the dera.The protesters raised slogans and demanded the arrest of the dera chief. A delegation, comprising Amardeep Singh Dharni, N.S. Tiwana, Ravinder Singh Khalsa and Surinder Kaur, submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner, urging the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers of Haryana and Punjab to check the activities of the dera.


Sikh protesters came out on the streets in Hoshiarpur, Dasuya and Mukerian towns today and burnt effigies of the head of Dera Sacha Sauda.In Hoshiarpur several Sikh youths of Akhand Kirtani Jatha (Parbandhki Panchayat) brandished swords and other traditional weapons and took out a protest march from Gurdwara Singh Sabha here to show their resentment. Later, they burnt an effigy of the dera chief at the local Prabhat Chowk.In Mukerian activists of the Mulazam Dal burnt an effigy of Baba Ram Rahim Gurmeet at the SDM chowk and presented a memorandum to the SDM in this regard.In Dasuya SAD activists took out a march to the SDM office and presented him a memorandum in this connection. Shopkeepers of Vijay Market, Dasuya, also staged a protest march in the town.


Students of Physical, Gurmat and Akal Degree Colleges, all situated at Mastuana Sahib, on Wednesday burnt the effigy of the head of Dera Sacha Sauda Baba at Mastuana Sahib, about 5 km from here. They also blocked traffic on the Sangrur-Barnala road for about 20 minutes and raised slogans against the dera head.Several Sikh organisations also took out a protest march through the main bazars at Sunam, about 13 km from here. The SDM Navtej Singh was later given a memorandum. Representatives and leaders of more than 15 Sikh organisations also held a protest meeting at Gurdwara Mehal Mubarak, Sangrur, and submitted a memorandum to SDM Mohan Lal. They demanded the registeration of a case against the dera head. Demanding immediate arrest of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim, Sikh protesters on Wednesday took out a march through the main bazars of the town. They burnt the effigy of the dera head and raised slogans. Equipped with swords and lathis, they assembled at Gurdwara Ghorian Wala. All bazars and schools in the town remained closed.


The situation here was tense but under control. The activists of various Sikh religious bodies gathered here at Gurdwara Singh Sabha and held a meeting and passed resolutions urging the jathedar of Akal Takht to issue a hukamnama against the chief of the dera.Activists of the Sikh religious bodies also raised slogans and blocked traffic here at the Chandigarh Chowk for some time. SGPC member Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa has demanded that the dera chief should tender his apology before Akal Takht.


The situation turned tense here when hundreds of Akali workers protesting against Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, head of dera Sacha Sauda, sat on dharna blocking the road near Gagan chowk this afternoon. Earlier in the morning, a large number of people assembled at Gurdwara Singh Sabha where local Akali leaders, including Mewa Singh Bhangu, Abrinder Singh Kang, Nardev Singh Akri, Hardev Singh Kandewala, and Jasbir Singh Jassi, addressed the gathering and asked them not to crate any tension in the region and wait for the outcome of meeting of Panthic Committee to be held at Talwandi Sabo on May 17.Despite the presence of DSP Bhupinder Singh Khatra, SHO (city) Bikramjit Singh Brar, and SHO (sadar) Krishan Kumar along with heavy police force, the youth managed to reach Gagan chowk brandishing swords and wooden planks raising slogans against the dera chief.Earlier in the morning, some miscreants set on fire a centre of Dera Sacha Sauda at Pilkahni village near here. Dera sevadar Amar Singh complained to the police that the dera committee purchased the land from Surinder Singh Chhida, a resident of Islampur village, and advanced him Rs 7 lakh against the deal. Later, Chhinda did not register the land in the name of dera and he allegedly set a room of dera on fire today morning. The police denied that the incident was related to recent incidents and registered a case against the accused.


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