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Friday, June 15, 2007

Latest Breaking News from Punjab - Friday 15th June 2007

Gurmit Ram Rahim is back at it, Jaam-e-Insan in hand But this time, clergy, Badal, panthic lobby are all silent

Sikhs toughen stance against Sacha Sauda on stoning issue

Fatehabad, Tension continued to prevail in Chandpura village today with the Chandpura Gurudwara management rejecting a truce proposal by the administration to defuse the situation following stoning of the shrine by some Sacha Sauda followers on Wednesday.A meeting of the Sikh factions, presided over by Jathedar Jagroop Singh, was held in the Gurudwara today and the shrine management committee outrightly rejected the proposals and toughened its stance on the issue. The committee alleged that the ‘naam charcha ghar’ of the dera in their village had been constructed by the dera followers after encroaching upon the village gazing ground and resolved to ensure that the land was restored to the panchayat after demolishing the building. The police has already arrested six Dera followers in the connection with pelting of the Gurdwara with stones. DSP Samunder Singh, who is overseeing the police deployment in the village had approached the sikh factions with the peace proposal from some village elders. The committee informed the mediators that any decision on this issue would now be taken after directions from the Akal Takht and Takht Damdama Sahib. The Sikh factions also resolved that they would restore possession of the dera land to the panchayat with the help of local administration and in case the local administration failed to cooperate, they would go ahead with their task with the help of followers of the Khalsa Panth.

Khalsa Action Committee Memorandum to Pakash Badal

Khalsa Action Committee
Memorandum toS. Parkash Singh Badal Hon’ble Chief Minister of Panjab
On 11 June 2007
ByKhalsa Action Committee Seeking arrest of Gurmeet Ram RahimAnd banning his anti-Sikh activities in Punjab
Sikhs all over the world are seething with anger and anguish over the continued anti-social and anti-religion activities of pseudo-saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Imitating the dress and mannerisms of Guru Gobind Singh, administering his so-called ‘jaam-e-insan’, by creating his own seven stars, on the pattern of the ‘Panj Piyaras’ and by promulgating a code of conduct on the pattern of Sikh Rehat Maryada, this person has outraged the religious feelings of the Sikhs and no believer of Sikh faith can tolerate such sacrilegious acts.
The blasphemous acts of this one person have created a sense of unrest in Punjab. Like all Punjabis, we too are concerned that events in the last few weeks, which have enraged a large cross section of Sikhs in Punjab and all over the Sikh Diaspora has put a question mark over the overall economic development of the state.
There is no doubt that Sikh sentiments have been hurt by the blasphemous acts of this person and his cohorts. The media has added fuel to the fire by launching a tirade against the agitating Sikhs and portraying them as threat to peace.
We feel let down by the fact that in spite of an Akali government in place, the hooligans of Dera Sirsa who had a field day in Punjab for three consecutive days from 14th-16th May, 2007, beating the Sikhs, ransacking the properties of bystanders and pelting stones at the police in Bhatinda in full public view. It was a repeat and rehash of sordid events of April 1978 when the pseudo-Nirankaris acted in a similar manner.
There is now once again substantial and substantive material to prove that the proliferation of this cult is part of a grandiose plan to undermine Sikhs. While Sikhs are yet to recover from the events of the last month, comes the report that Gurmeet Ram Rahim has repeated his acts in Sirsa yesterday. His followers are making pernicious attempts to regroup and overawe the Sikhs as they did in Mandi Ahmedgarh, Moga and Ferozepur in the last few days. As you are in power it should be easy for you to decipher which forces are behind the dera. Whether it is the central government or the security agencies out to create mischief is for you to find out.
In any case, we believe that it is time for your government to launch action against the accused. A Special Investigation Team should be constituted to arrest Gurmeet Ram Rahim on the basis of the FIR filed against him at Bhatinda. A search and seize operation should be launched at Salabatpura and other deras in Punjab as Sikhs believe that they are dens of illegal arms. It is completely wrong to say that it is unconstitutional to shut down such deras which are spreading hatred and are danger to peaceful co-existence of Punjabis.
The murderer of Kamaljit Singh, named in the FIR filed in the said case, is hiding in one of the deras of this cult. The hooligans who indulged in vandalism on 14th May 2007 in Bhatinda; manhandled and mauled police personnel are also hiding in the cult deras, either in Punjab or Haryana. There is no doubt that to arrest such criminal elements, deras can be raided and sealed to secure public order and peace.
The treatment that is being doled out to him in the form of Z-plus security, barricading of his deras in Haryana and Punjab, giving him permission to hold his cultist ceremonies and registering of false cases against Sikh leaders who are agitating against the Sirsa dera chief is adding insult to injury.
The right to religion should not provide any person or group or association a right to undermine another’s faith. We believe that it is time for action. We request you not to prevaricate on the issue and instead take stern action. History bears testimony to the fact that inordinate and deliberate delays in delivering justice to Sikhs, following the events of April 1978, made matters worse.
The Khalsa Action Committee, consisting of representatives of various Sikh organizations formed recently to coordinate action against the Sirsa dera appeals that Gurmeet Ram Rahim should be arrested and all his deras should be sealed. All false cases against agitating Sikh leaders should be immediately withdrawn. We assure that all your fears can be allayed if you show the political will to allow the law to take its own course.

Paramjit Singh Sarna Dheli Sikh Gurdwara Comittee President
Bhai Daljit Singh Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Vice President
Bhai Mohkam Singh Damdami Taksal
Kanwarpal Singh Dal Khalsa
Rajinder Singh Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat
Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode Shiromani Akali Dal (1920)
Paramjit Singh Gazi Sikh Students Federation
Baba Sukhchain Singh Sant Samaj
Karnail Singh Panjoli Member SGPC
Jagdish Singh Jeeda Member SGPC from Haryana
R. P. Singh Akhand Kirtani Jatha
Gurtej Singh, former IAS
Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib Dal Khalsa
Harjinder Singh Dilgeer Columnist Gurinder Singh Shampura Member SGPC

2 dera followers held, remanded

Sangrur, Following trouble between the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda and members of the Sikh community at Cheema Mandi (near Sunam) yesterday, normalcy returned to Cheema town today. However, with a view to maintaining law and order in the town, a flag march, led by Sunam DSP Joginder Singh, was taken out by the security forces.
While talking to The Tribune on phone, in charge of Cheema Mandi police chowki Harjinder Singh said the police had arrested Piara Singh and Bikar Singh, residents of Cheema Mandi, in connection with a case registered against them the previous day. He said they were produced in a court at Sunam today, which remanded them in judicial custody till June 28.
The Cheema chowki in charge said the police had also registered a case against eight persons by name and the mob, comprising members of the Sikh community. However some of them today joined the police investigations, he added.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim gets Z-plus security

CHANDIGARH: Dera Sacha head Gurmeet Ram Rahim will now be provided "Z-plus" security cover by the Haryana government, putting him among the ranks of the most protected VIPs in the state. The decision follows the rising Sikh anger against the self-styled baba who imitated Guru Gobind Singh and enraged even the Akal Takht. Only three other persons, Haryana Governor Dr A.R. Kidwai, Chief Min ister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and former chief minister Bhajan Lal, have been provided with Z-plus security by the state government. Officials say the committee has also given approval for the purchase of a custom-built bulletproof vehicle for the Dera head, while his request for a vehicle equipped with an electronic pulse jammer to accompany him is under consideration. Under the Z-plus security cover, he will get at least one escort vehicle, house guard and round-the-clock personal security officers. At present, the Haryana police have provided him with a security cover comprising 12 constables and a non-gazetted police officer.

Despite Sacha Sauda jolt, dera system may actually thrive now

Chandigarh: Even as the Akali Dal is still grappling about how to deal with the Dera Sacha Sauda and the SGPC has declared its intention to pump in more resources into dharam parchar in Malwa region in Punjab, the fact remains that many of the dera in Punjab, most with a Sikh appearance, have come to wield their clout only because of patronising Akali governments and a less than watchful SGPC.
Akali Dal president and CM Parkash Singh Badal is known for visiting many a deras when he was out of power, and his earlier visits to Dera Sacha Sauda are no secret. Even after the Dera in Malwa had announced its support for the Congress, Badal chose to send senior BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Navjot Singh Sidhu to the dera to mollify Ram Rahim Singh, the dera head. The visit was public and the duo was made to wait for considerable time in full public view.
During the last stint of Badal in power, Punjab became a safe haven for many anti-Sikh deras, babas, including the RSS affliated Rashtriya Sikh Sangat and fraudulent dehdhari 'gurus' like the Nurmahal baba.
Badal himself has remained under a cloud for years now for seeking the blessings of someone like Chandraswami and holding or participating in havans and yagnas. His photographs depicting him as offering ahutis are common. Even after the latest Assembly polls, Badal visited the Bhaini darbar of Namdharis. His brusque attitude towards the Akal Takht and his role in appointing and deposing jathedars of Akal Takht has been only too well known. Then how can the Sikhs who at times chose to follow one or the other cult or sect feel inspired to rather follow the path shown by Guru Granth Sahib than any avowed by a self-styled dera man?
The ongoing troubles of the community with 'saadhs' such as Maan Singh Pehovawala and Daljeet Singh Chicago are a part of this pattern. And Akal Takht jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti's role in all this also leaves little to the imagination.
A prime example of the free hand given to the dehdhari 'gurus' is the recent unwarranted arrest of thirty odd Sikh protestors at an anti-Pehova rally recently.
Another saadh was the convicted rapist Shamsher Singh Jagherra, known to be close to Badal. He earlier worked as a caretaker of Gurdwara Sri Mastuana Sahib (Dugri Road, Ludhiana) but was relieved of his duties after his real self came to be known.
Sources said Jagherra is now again sending signals that better days will return soon after the return of Parkash Singh Badal to power.
In such a scenario, it is only a novice's guess to expect that Badal or the SGPC will decisively fight against the menace of saadh culture in Punjab. There are better chances of the reverse happening. After all, "managing" a saadh on to their side is a simpler way towards success in electoral matrix than fighting against the construct of self-styled agents of God.

Sikh Students Federation Condemns Badal

Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab - The Sikh Students Federation strongly criticized statement of Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal , ‘in which he directed SGPC members to allow dera Sauda followers’ to organize their functions and also to allow them to carry Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
SSF President Parmjeet Singh Gazi claimed that Badal’s statement is in violation of edicts of non-corporation with dera followers issued by Akal Takht Sahib on 17 May and affirmed again by all Singh Sahibs on 20 May.
SSF President, who is also a member of 15 members Khasla Action Committee, claimed that June 24 “KhalsaMarch” from Dina Kangar to Takhar Sri Damdama Sahib is a step towards implementation of edicts of Sri AkalTakht Sahib.
Gazi made an appeal to Sikh Sangat to participate in this march and to pursue Akal Takht call for social boycott of dera-followers. He also demanded immediate arrest of dera head for hurting religious feelings of the Sikh nation .

Sikh attacked by Cultists in Cheema Mandi, Sangrur

Cheema Mandi, Sangrur (KP) – The situation remains volatile in the town of Cheema Mandi near Sunam after a Sikh was viciously attacked by followers of the controversial Sirsa cultist Ram Rahim. A large contingent of Police and Border Security Forces (BSF) had to be brought in after Sikhs from surrounding areas quickly descended on the small town in protest.
The victim, Gurjant Singh Tolawal, was grabbed by his beard and attacked with swords and sharp weapons by a mob of cultists after a quarrel outside a barber shop. Gurjant Singh was questioning a shop owner, Piara Sinh, on why he was still following the teachings of the Sirsa cult when he had renounced the cult and re-converted to Sikhi. He had also accepted a siropa from the Sikh community for this act. Piara then quipped that the only use he has for the siropa is to use it to clean his barber shop. The heated argument accelerated further when Piara and Bikar, another cult follower, grabbed Gurjant Singh by his beard and began to manhandle him.
Gurjant Singh was then subsequently attacked with a sword and other sharp instruments by the duo and other dera followers. After the attackers had fled, Gurjant Singh was helped out by some good Samaritans and rushed to Suman Civil Hospital. He received more than 20 stitches and multiple injuries from the attack.
News of the tragic event spread like wildfire in the nearby area. The reaction by the Sikh Sangat was swift. Sangat from nearby towns and villages descended on the town immediately in protest of what had taken place. By the time the Sangat arrived, Piara and Bikar had already gone into hiding. The protestors, in rage, destroyed several shops and other personal property of the offending cultists.
Police is said to have cordoned off the house of the miscreants and managed to keep the protesting Sangat away from the area after assuring them that proper action would be taken against the duo and any accomplices.
A large police and BSF presence was still visible in the town and around the home of Piara and Bikkar for awhile after. The two cultists along with 10 other dera followers were eventually arrested. At least eight Sikh Sangat members were also arrested in connection to the unrest.

Rajasthan Sangat Upholds Hukamnamas against Sirsa Cult

Sri Ganga Nagar, Rajasthan (KP) – In response to the blasphemous activities of Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim, local Sikh Sangat and Panthic organizations have declared a statewide ban of Dera Sacha Sauda. In addition, local Sangat has also decided to take a stand against all programs of Dera Sacha Sauda that are held in Rajasthan. Sikh Sangat of Rajasthan has constructed a thirty-one member committee that will overlook the task of boycotting Dera Sacha Sauda. At its very first meeting that was held recently by the committee, over 400 Sikh leaders held their views. It was affirmed that no Sikh in Rajasthan would be allowed to hold any kind of relation with followers of Dera Sacha Sauda and dera followers will also be barred from doing parkash of Guru Granth Sahib Ji at their programs. Bhai Tajinderpal Singh Tima, President of Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Gurdwara Committee told the press that the thirty-one member committee will play a vital role in Dera Sacha Sauda boycott by keeping all Rajasthan Gurdwaras updated by sending periodic mails about Gurmat and local politics. He said that Sikhs of Rajasthan will abide by the hukamnamas of Akal Takhat Sahib that mandate boycott of Dera Sacha Sauda in all aspects. Worldwide Panthic organizations have applauded the efforts of Rajasthani Sikhs as Rajasthan has a big majority of Sacha Sauda followers. Sri Ganga Nagar itself has a population of over six lakh dera followers. Ever since the thirty-one member committee has been formed, pictures of Gurmeet Ram Rahim have been removed from most Governmental offices in Rajasthan. Gurmeet Ram Rahim was once enjoying a celebrity status in the State and his pictures were installed in these offices. The situation in Rajasthan is believed to be under control of local Sikhs as the Government has not even allowed the dera followers to hold their sat-sang programs.

Jagtar Singh : A Victim of the Sauda Cult and the Sikh Leadership

Sangrur, Punjab (KP) - Excellent promises, mediocre execution--these are the qualities of our Jathedars. Be it the Akal Takhat Sahib, SGPC, DSGMC, the Sant Samaj or others, by far no organization has played an acceptable role in guiding the Sikh nation properly in the recent clash with Dera Sacha Sauda. As a consequence of the shortcomings of our leadership, the Sikh nation, especially the youth, faced road blocks and harsh consequences.
The same is the story of Bhai Jagtar Singh of Sangrur and many other Sikhs. Bhai Jagtar Singh, after listening to the promising speeches of our Jathedars, left for Sirsa to fulfill his Panthic duty. He is now in a miserable situation. His family, who was already in an unstable financial situation, is now trying to survive without the help of their only bread winner--Bhai Jagtar Singh is now physically unfit.
Bhai Jagtar Singh left for Sirsa soon after returning from Damdama Sahib. His motive was quite simple: avenge the desecration of Sikhi. The innocent minded Jagtar Singh had no food or money and as he entered the dera he approached the kitchen area to eat some food. Followers of Sacha Sauda were suspicious of his presence and when Bhai Jagtar Singh had just started eating, he was maligned and his belongings were searched. A mobile phone and an identification card was found from his pocket. Unfortunately, the identification card determined his identity as a Granthi Singh.
He was at once tied up with ropes and beaten harshly. Later, he was locked in a room. Dera followers showed no mercy and did not even provide any food or water. After a few days, Bhai Jagtar Singh managed to loosen the ropes. He escaped from the dera as the room attendant fell asleep. The dera followers found out about his escape and sent many men to chase him. It didn't take them very long before Bhai Jagtar Singh was in their custody again.
Once again Bhai Jagtar Singh was physically tortured, but local villagers informed the police and because of that, dera followers were left with no option but to hand Jagtar Singh to the Sirsa police. Upon arresting Jagtar Singh, he was admitted to the PGI hospital in Rohtak as he was badly injured.
The family of Bhai Jagtar Singh was informed of the arrest but due to a lack of financial resources, the family was unable to go to Sirsa. After borrowing Rs. 5,000 from a local Sangrur villager they finally made it. Much to their surprise, after reaching the hospital, the family was not able to identify their son as his hair was cut and he had bruises all over his body. After the 15 minute visit that was permitted, Bhai Jagtar Singh was again in the hands of strangers. At this point no one was willing to admit whether it was the police or the Sacha Sauda followers who had cut Bhai Jagtar Singh's hair.
The family was not able to make another trip to Haryana to see their son because during this time, no organization offered them financial support. But recently, with the grace of Guru Sahib, Bhai Jagtar Singh recovered from his physical injuries and returned home. During this time, the news of Bhai Jagtar Singh had been published in many newspapers across India, but no organization had taken the initiative in approaching his poor family to offer any kind of financial or moral support. The story of Bhai Jagtar Singh brings up an important point - Is our leadership only able to make mediocre promises?

Arrest Ram-Rahim or we will Court Arrest : Sant-Samaj

Chandigarh, Punjab (KP) – In response to Punjab Government's unnecessary interruption during the Fatehgarh Sahib march, several Panthic leaders lashed out on Parkash Badal and other Shiromani Akali Dal (B) members during a meeting held at Gurdwara Nanaksar (Ludhiana). The march that initiated from Fatehgarh Sahib finalized at Gurdwara Jyoti Saroop Sahib although according to plans, its destination was set to Chandigarh.
During the meeting at Nanaksar, all Sant Samaj leaders collectively gave an ultimatum to the government seeking arrest of Gurmeet Ram Rahim before June 18. It was decided that if the government fails to arrest the Sacha Sauda leader, Sant Samaj leaders would court arrest in front of the Chandigarh Raj Bhawan to protest government failure.
Harnam Singh Dhumma, the President and spokesperson of the Sant Samaj, said that peaceful protests will be carried out in front of the Raj Bhawan. He blamed the Punjab and Haryana State Government for being the main factor behind the violence that erupted in Punjab. While talking to the press after the three hour long meeting, Dhumma said that if the State Governments had taken appropriate steps to deal with Gurmeet Ram Rahim's case, situation in Punjab could have been kept under control
Paramjit S. Sarna, President of Shiromani Akali Dal (D) named Parkash Badal and Bhatriya Janta Party leadership as the main culprits behind the Sacha Sauda controversy. He lashed out on Parkash Badal while demanding an expedited inquiry and decision of the case. Sarna said if Parkash Badal's government fails to act in a reasonable manner, he should resign from the post of Punjab chief minister.
Daljit Singh Bittu who was representing the Shiromani Akal Dal (A) in absence of S. Simranjit Singh Mann stated that strict actions will be taken against Sacha Sauda Leader while maintaining peace in the state. Since the meeting was held before his arrest, he has asked for all Panthic organizations to meet once again in Ludhiana to discuss further course of actions.

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