Latest Breaking News - Thursday 21st June 2007
Arrest warrant against dera chief
Bathinda, In a significant development that could give a new twist to the standoff between Dera Sacha Sauda and Sikh organisations, additional chief judicial magistrate A.L. Kitchi today issued arrest warrant against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head, Dera Sacha Sauda, in connection with a criminal case registered against him under Section 295-A of the IPC on May 20 in Bathinda.
Sources said the magistrate directed the police to seek permission from the state government before arresting him.
A formal application was moved in the court by the police for securing his arrest warrant on June 18. However, the court took up the application yesterday and later adjourned the case.
The case was registered on the complaint of Rajinder Singh Sidhu, president, Khalsa Diwan. The dera head was charged with hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs through his blasphemous act of imitating Guru Gobind Singh and enacting the religious baptism ceremony.
The police has also registered two criminal cases against dera followers for their alleged involvement in violence on May 14 and 15. Nearly 20 followers have been arrested so far.
Nau Nihal Singh, SSP, said the police would get the copy of arrest warrants tomorrow.
UNI adds: While referring to the plea of the prosecution, the court questioned the motive behind registering the case at a police station in Bathinda instead of at the Bhagta police station as the dera head had enacted the baptism ceremony at Salabatpura village. The prosecution contended that the case was registered at a local police station after the complaint of a local resident and, moreover, Bathinda, too, had been affected by the violence that followed the Salabatpura incident.
As the police had not sought the permission of the state government while registering the case, the court directed the prosecution to get the permission. The court pointed out that for registering a case under Section 295-A, the permission had to be first sought from the government.
After the prosecution assured the court that the permission would be formally sought from the government, the magistrate issued non-bailable warrants that are returnable by July 1.
During the arguments yesterday, the prosecution told the court that the police had raided the dera at Sirsa twice in the recent past to arrest Ram Rahim. However, on both occasions due to the presence of a large number of followers, the police could not arrest him.
Fresh apology, this time to Sikhs
Chandigarh/Mohali, In what could defuse tension and soothe frayed nerves in the North India, especially Punjab, chief of Dera Sacha Sauda Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh today issued a fresh apology. Now, he has apologised for his actions to the entire Sikh community.
It comes on a day when a court issued an arrest warrant against the dera chief for allegedly hurting the Sikh community's sentiments.
A copy of the letter was delivered by a special emissary of the Dera Sacha Sauda to chief of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee P.S. Sarna, who, in turn, has handed it over to SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar here today for acceptance of the Sikh high priests. Makkar said the letter had been received, however, he refused to comment, saying that only jathedar of the Akal Takht Joginder Singh Vedanti would comment on it. Makkar and Sarna addressed a joint press conference at Mohali here tonight.
It had been decided that a 10-member committee would be formed to iron out differences between the sect and the Sikh community, said Sarna. It would have five members each from among the Sikhs and followers of the sect. The choice of five members of the Sikhs had been left to Sikh high priests.
Sources said an MLA from Punjab, a dera emissary and a senior intelligence official were present when Sarna provided the information about the breakthrough in the deadlock.
Sarna told The Tribune that the apology letter was signed by the dera and it should not have any problems in being accepted. He revealed that the DSGMC was working behind the scene to persuade the dera chief to see reason.
A meeting of the Khalsa Action Committee was held tonight to decide on the further course of action. Various Sikh organisations was mounting pressure on the Punjab government asking it to arrest the dera chief and a case was registered against him on May 20 for "hurting the religious sentiments" of the Sikhs.
Chandigarh, Congress MLAs today staged a walkout from the Punjab Vidhan Sabha when their demand for a discussion on the law and order situation was rejected just before the budget was to be presented.
Minutes after leading the walkout, leader of the opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal alleged that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had failed in his constitutional duty to ensure that every citizen got the fundamental right to practise any religion
She said the way premis (followers of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda) were being hounded out of the social fabric was wrong. As many as 74 deras of the sect had closed down as Badal had failed to protect them while he was allowing all pro-SAD deras like the one headed by a former SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, to continue. Those who had issued public threats to dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and also other sects were not booked, she said.
When asked if the police case against the dera chief should be withdrawn, she said “the law should take its own course”. The granthis at gurdwaras were not permitting the presence of Guru Granth Sahib at bhogs and birth ceremonies in the families of premis.
Bhattal said Badal had once torn up copies of the Constitution and now was disrespecting it in another manner.
Though the dera chief had apologised, the government had taken no concrete steps to ensure the protection of life and property of dera followers, she alleged.
Justifying the walkout, she said that peace in the state was more important than development and the budget.
Charging the government with politicising the Sikh- Dera Sacha Sauda conflict, Bhattal claimed that those who did not vote for the Shiromani Akali Dal in the February assembly poll were being targeted by the government and were booked in fabricated cases. This “Akalisation” of Punjab would not be tolerated, she added. Bhattal said Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon had disallowed the raising of certain issues, including law and order, before the presentation of the budget in the house.
A plea by Chief Minister Badal that the opposition party should sit down during the budget presentation was rejected by the opposition. Bhattal, who visibly had the solid backing of the younger outspoken lot of MLAs, preferred a walkout and addressed the media, saying the Chief Minister should have given an assurance that a judicial commission would be set up.
Earlier, the Congressmen arrived in the house wearing plastic aprons over their clothes with slogans written on these criticising the ruling SAD-BJP combine. The aprons had anti-government slogans and demands for halting police repression against Congress workers and dalits written on them. A slogan castigated the government for failing to implement the cheap atta-dal scheme. Another one called the first 100 days of the government as “100 black days” and another one demanded a judicial inquiry into the Noormahal incident.
Dera Row Khalsa panel adamant on June 24 march
Amritsar, Various Sikh bodies, including the SGPC, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and a section of the Sant Samaj, have been making all-out efforts to resolve the Sikh-Dera Sacha Sauda row and the meeting of the Sikh clergy may be delayed because Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, jathedar, Akal Takht, has gone abroad. He is unlikely to return before June 24, the date fixed by the Khalsa Action Committee to march in procession against blasphemous activities of dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Fresh mediation efforts have led to a debate in Sikh circles, especially over the meeting of DSGMC chief Parmjit Singh Sarna and the SGPCchief at Mohali today .However, Harvinder Singh Sarna , a former DSGMC chief, said it should not be construed that they (Sarna brothers) had reached any understanding with Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, and SGPC chief Avtar Singh . He said : “We have brought the fresh draft on behalf of the apology of the dera in the larger interest of the Sikh community.”
The DSGMC chief claimed the draft of fresh apology was faxed from Sirsa, a copy of which was sent to Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa, chief of the Damdami Taksal.. Some senior functionaries of the dera were also involved in the mediation. Sarna claimed it was the dera which approached him a week ago to defuse the situation.
Congress MLA Harminder Singh Jassi, a relative of the dera chief, played a pivotal role in drafting the fresh apology.
This development reportedly has caused division in the Sant Samaj because some senior leaders of the Khalsa panel have rejected the fresh apology.
Talking to The Tribune, Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu, senior vice-president, SAD (Amritsar), Kanwarpal Singh, a spokesman for the Dal Khalsa, and Bhai Mohkam Singh, a spokesman for the Dal Khalsa, said the proposed march of June 24 would be taken out as per schedule since the fresh draft of the apology was unacceptable to them.
The Dal Khalsa spokesman said the directive of Jathedar Vedanti that they should take consent of the Sikh clergy before taking out any procession had no validity since they had already sought his “permission” on June 6 and Jathedar Vedanti himself had given his “consent” to the Khalsa committee to “go ahead” with the protest march.
The question doesn't even arise that we should forgive the dera chief - Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu Vice President Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar
Guru Granth Sahib removed from dera
Moga, Activists of the Ek Noor Khalsa Fauj today removed Guru Granth Sahib from dera Satoana, near here, without any resistance from the opposite side.
Nearly 12 activists reached the dera and removed Guru Granth Sahib on the premise that it was against the Sikh principles to keep the holiest scripture in a dera.
The Satoana dera headed by Sant Balbir Singh has been running in the village for the past several decades.
Sants came marching in, Badal rushed to deflate
Fatehgarh Sahib/Mohali: Of the several Machiavellian ways available to a politician to torpedo a move that could inspire a community to stress its aspirations and forge a feeling of identity, Punjab Chief Minister and Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal chose the option of direct intervention. Few can deflate a movement in Sikh ranks with the dexterity of a Badal. As the Sikh leaders associated with the Sant Samaj came marching from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh to court arrest, their protest aimed at forcing the government to arrest Dera Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the group was stopped in Mohali where Badal himself landed, asking the Sants not to adopt the strategy of dharnas and arrests. "Such protests suit politicians, not the Sants," Badal said.
He said the provocation created by Dera head was indeed grave, but he just couldn't go ahead and arrest Gurmit Ram Rahim since he was bound by the Oath of Constitution and will allow the law to take its own course. Badal did not say which Article of the Constitution allows someone to insult and imitate the Sikh Gurus.
The CM's media adviser Harcharan Singh Bains was with Badal as he engaged the Sants for about 45 minutes in Mohali's Phase VIII on Mohali-Sirhind road. As the Sant Samaj leadership seemed intent on courting arrest, Badal refused to budge saying he just can't allow any detention or arrest of the Sants. Minutes after he left, a message from the Akal Takht jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti arrived through SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar asking all leaders to formulate any protest programs only after clearance from the temporal authority. This was enough to convince the Sant Samaj to call off Tuesday's protest.
Damdami Taksal leader Harnam Singh Dhumma, who often suffixes 'Khalsa' or 'Bhindranwale' with his name depending upon the occasion, seemed to more ready than others to concede, which also brought out the fact that the Sant Samaj also had internal differences on the matter.
The exercise was in many ways a repeat of the earlier march from Fatehgarh Sahib which was to reach Chandigarh, but then diverted to nearby Gurdwara Jyoti Saroop where ADCs of Punjab and Haryana governors had reached to receive the memorandums. The move had taken the sting out of the protest and made life easier for Badal.
Earlier, the sants held a meeting at Dewan Todar Mal hall on the gurdwara premises during which prominent Sikh leaders criticized chief of the dera Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Of course, the continued pressure tactics is also yielding some dividends. On June 19, the Badal government moved to up the pressure with the Bathinda police seeking from a local court arrest warrants against Gurmeet Ram Rahim in the criminal case registered against him at the city police station here on May 20.
The move now makes the entry of Gurmeet Ram Rahim into Bathinda difficult and strategists of the government say it was to stall a satsang in the dera branch at Salabatpura village in July where Gurmeet Ram was to participate.
Police said the formal application was moved regarding the criminal case registered under Section 295-A of the IPC on the complaint of Rajinder Singh Sidhu, president, local Khalsa Diwan.
Badal's claims of so much respect for the Sants notwithstanding, the panthic government had ordered tough measures by the police. Elaborate security arrangements were made and cops from other districts were also called in to ensure law and order. Tear-gas guns and anti-rioting squads were on hand and policemen deflated tyres of vehicles parked along the Fatehgarh-Mohali road. Movements of perceived radicals, like Bhai Daljit Singh of Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Dal Khalsa general secretary Kanwar Pal Singh, were video graphed by the police during their stay in the district and the convoy of over 150 vehicles was escorted by the police up to the district border.
Dhumma did not forget to add that soon the next line of action will be decided, a clear indication that the Sant Samaj would like to keep the leadership role on the issue. As for Bhai Daljit Singh, his movements were a more closely followed exercise since a case of sedition is pending against him and he was expected to join investigations.
Punjab Police back to old ways
But these were not the only developments. The Punjab Police meanwhile prepared to gather ammunition against men who could be a pain in the neck someday because they aren’t adopting the compromising tone. The Mohali police claimed it has nabbed former Bhindarawale Tiger Force (BTF) terrorist Sangat Singh Bawani's son Gurcharan Singh Kala and his accomplice Sawranjit Singh Bobby, a local leader, for planning to kill Baba Bhaniarawala and forming a Khalsa Action Committee for the purpose.
The police claimed that Bobby and Kala met in the high security Nabha jail where they were pursuaded by Daljit Singh Bittu, Balbir Singh Beera and Gursharan Singh Gama, associated with Kala's father, to eliminate Baba Bhaniarawala. Mohali SSP Ranbir Singh Khatra said the two had confessed to the plot and a .455 bore pistol, a .30 bore revolver and two grenades were recovered from them. The duo were nabbed for attempting to snatch police weapons in Bhakhra canal siphon in Jhalliana village and loot a Kurali-based trader. Both have been remanded to judicial custody.
A day later, the Moga police also registered a sedition case against some unknown pro Khalistanis for threatening the life of Dera Sauda head following appearance of a few provocative posters.
Bhaniarawala, who was ex-communicated by the Akal Takht, presently resides in his village Dhamana in Ropar under a CRPF cover.
Arrest warrant issued against Dera chief
BATHINDA: In a significant development, a Bathinda court on Wednesday issued a conditional arrest warrant against Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, accused of hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs.
The Court of Duty Magistrate AL Khitchi issued the order this evening but directed the police to seek Punjab Government's permission before arresting the Sirsa-based Dera head.
On Tuesday, the judge had noted that police did not have sufficient evidence to seek arrest warrant against the Dera head after which the prosecution sought a day's time following which the court reserved its order till tomorrow.
Police in their application had claimed that they had "sufficient evidence" against him. Various Sikh organisations have been mounting pressure on the Punjab Government asking it to arrest the Dera chief for "hurting" the religious feelings of the community.
A case was registered against the head of the Sirsa-based sect on May 20 for "hurting religious sentiments" of Sikhs.
The Dera chief was embroiled in controversy after an advertisement appeared in newspapers on May 13 purportedly showing him distributing "amrit" (nectar) while attired in a dress similar to that of Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh.
Warrants and Sorry Game of the Dera of Semantics
Talk is in the air once again of a new muaafinama from the dera. When the entire political establishment in Punjab was busy with the goings on in the Punjab Assembly and Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal was reading out his long-winded budget speech, many were looking for thrills in the boring documents likely to termed as a dream budget by the establishment and its stooges. But far more thrilling stuff was happening outside, of course in a hush hush manner as is the nature of all cloak and dagger operations.
Representatives of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim were networking with the sympathetic quarters in the Akali Dal and trying to reach out to the clergy, ready with a newly drafted (crafted?) apology in hand, this time saying sorry to the Sikh sangat instead of the earlier tactic of addressing the muaafi to tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh.
The CBI now has the deadline of end of July to submit the final report in the murder case in which Gurmeet Ram Rahim is a prime accused and the baba is under prssure to pull a rabbit out of his jaam-e-insa to escape the law. As it became pretty clear that he was ready to organise a function at Salabatpura dera, the scene of the violent protests some time back, the Akali Dal-BJP regime got seriously into the act and the Bathinda police was asked to move the court to obtain the arrest warrants of the dera baba.
This is aimed at stopping the baba from entering Bathinda and a poor attempt to try and confine him to Haryana, something which can enable Badal to say that it was out of the purview of his government to arrest the man who insulted the Sikh religion, imitated the tenth Guru and continues to remain unrepentant. He is now announcing that the nam-charcha dramas will rather increase and has already repeated the copycat action of amrit sanchar ceremony with a jaam-e-insa function at Sirsa on June 10.
The Sikh sangat has seen the intensive efforts by the Badal camp to somehow torpedo all panthic actions, the latest being his move of landing at the dharna site in Mohali and asking the Sant Samaj not to court arrest. If he respected the Sants so much, why did his police stop them from proceeding towards the secretariat? Then came the instruction from the Akal Takht jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, brought by none other than SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar. No messenger would have succeeded in racing against time as Makkar did that day, getting the missive to the Sants by 9 pm.
The WSN understands that the efforts by Gurmeet Ram Rahim to somehow hoodwink the sangat with some semantic play and crafted apologies will continue till he finds someone who can get him off the hook, but let it be said clearly that the Sikh quom will accept a line of action only and only when it is taken after taking the entire Khalsa Panth into confidence.
Meanwhile, the strategy to keep behind bars men like Simranjit Singh Mann and entangle in cases leaders like Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu will only harm the Sikh cause.
The quom is so far united, despite many provocations to the contrary, under the banner of the Akal Takht, and it is up to the clergy and the panthic leadership to ensure that this unity is maintained. The only way is the Khalsa way of collective decision making. Cloak and dagger is an alternative too poor to succeed.
Dera supporters attack Sikh youth, case registered after protest
SIRSA: Four Dera Sauda followers allegedly attacked a Sikh youth after he objected to their holding a function in Dadoo village, about 45 km from here, on June 17 evening. The victim, Gurvinder Singh, alleged that the Dera supporters were using derogatory language against the Guru Granth Sahib. When he objected, they allegedly beat him up. The Kalanwali police registered a case under Sections 323, 324 and 34 of the IPC against Surjit Singh alias Sita, Iqbal Singh, Balvinder Singh alias Pappi and Darshan Singh, all Dadoo residents. But the police action failed to soothe the anger of the Sikhs. Dadoo gurdwara main sewadar Baljit Singh in retaliation asked the Sikhs to block the Dabwali-Rori road and demanded Section 307 of the IPC be added in the complaint. Dabwali Sub-Divisional Magistrate and the DSP rushed to the spot to defuse the situation. The Sikhs finally relented and lifted the blockade after the Section was incorporated. On the other hand, one of the accused, Iqbal Singh, got himself admitted to Civil Hospital in Sirsa with some injuries. He alleged Sikhs had thrashed him and demanded a criminal case be registered against them. It is common for Punjab Police to register cases on demand as way to achieve compromise between two parties. Even cases of attempt to murder are routinely registered in a most casual manner.
Dera Supporters clash with sikh groups in Haryana Village.
Chandigarh :Hours after a conditional arrest warrant was issued against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, members of Sikh community today clashed with Dera supporters in a village in Sirsa prompting the authorities to beef up security in the tense areas.
The district authorities have sought additional para-military forces, including 400 Rapid Action Force personnel, after the clash in Odhan village of Sirsa. The clash between Dera supporters and the Sikh group erupted after a court in Bathinda issued a conditional non-bailable arrest warrant against Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. No one was injured in the incident.
"We have asked for four more companies of RAF even as four BSF companies are already with us," Sirsa Deputy Commissioner V Umashankar said . The state government and the district administration was closely keeping a watch on the situation in tense Sirsa town, official sources said.
Tight security arrangements are in place around the Dera, whose chief was recently provided with "Z plus" security cover owing to the threats to his life. Meanwhile, the Sirsa district administration in its bid to defuse tension in villages bordering Punjab, has formed a 32-member peace committee headed by the Deputy Commissioner. It also includes 28 eminent citizens.
'Harassed' Dera to meet on today
Sirsa :As tension mounted in Haryana's Sirsa, the seat of Dera Sacha Sauda, the sect has alleged that 'excesses' were being committed against its followers and convened an urgent meeting on Thursday to chalk out its action plan to counter the attempts to 'terrorise' them.
Hours after a court issued conditional arrest warrant against its chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Dera followers held a congregation in Sirsa after which it asked supporters from all the states to converge in Sirsa. 'The Dera has convened an emergent meeting on Thursday to take further action to counter excesses on the Dera followers by some anti-social elements,' a release issued by the sect on Monday night in Chandigarh said.
It said some anti-social elements are 'openly creating an atmosphere of terror' against peaceful followers of Dera. It asked its followers to be 'prepared for any eventuality and make any sacrifice.' A clash took place between some Sikh community members and Dera supporters in a village in Sirsa, leading to tension. Security is being stepped up in Sirsa with deployment of additional paramilitary forces.
Tight security arrangements are in place around the Dera, whose chief was recently provided 'Z plus' security cover owing to the threats to his life. The state was hit by a sectarian strife in which one person was killed and over 50 were injured after head of Dera Sacha Sauda appeared in an advertisement in various newspapers on May 13 showing him as dressed as tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.