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Monday, July 09, 2007

Latest Breaking News from Punjab: Monday 9th July 2007

Dera Row - 24 protesters, six cops hurt in clash

Ferozepur, More than 24 Sikh protesters and several policemen were injured during a clash in front of the Dera Sacha Sauda branch situated on the Hussainiwala road here this morning.
Hundreds of Sikh protesters reached the dera early morning to prevent dera followers from holding "Naamcharcha”.
ADC Rahul Tiwari and SDM D.P.S. Kharbanda, who had reached the spot early morning, said the district administration had already prevailed upon dera followers not to organise “Naamcharcha”.
The SDM said the administration told the leaders accompanying the protesters that since "Naamcharcha" was not being held, they should return peacefully.
Instead of returning, the protesters, which included workers from various Sikh bodies, broke the police barrier and rushed towards the dera.
They demanded that the symbol of "Ek Onkar" placed at the entrance of the dera should be removed as the dera was not supposed to use that symbol. The civil authorities told the protesters that since Akal Takht had not issued any directives on use of "Ek Onkar", they should not insist on removing it so that the atmosphere did not get vitiated.
The protesters started pelting stones and attacked the police with swords and other sharp-edged weapons. Six policemen - head constable Sudesh Pal, Nirbhai Singh, Angrej Singh, Subhash Chander, Darshan Dayal and Jagir Singh - were injured in the incident. Two photojournalists also sustained injuries.
The police used water canons and teargas shells and later resorted to lathicharge to disperse the crowd.
Paramjit Singh Kalsi, president, Sikh Student Federation, termed the police action as unwarranted. He denied that the protesters had turned violent and blamed the district administration for the melee.
The police has registered a case against prominent Sikh leaders who led the protest. According to information, the police has registered a case under Sections 307, 324, 353, 186, 332 and 188,, IPC, against Harpal Singh Bhullar, Paramjit Singh Kalsi, Jaspal Singh, Udik Singh Kunde, Dilbagh Singh, Lakhwinder Singh Ladda, Balwinder Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Rajinder Singh, Harjinder Singh and Gurvinder Singh along with a few unidentified persons for defying magisterial orders, instigating the crowd and causing injuries to policemen.
When contacted, Harpal Singh Bhullar, while condemning the police action, stated that instead of registering a case against the dera followers, the police has falsely implicated them for no fault of theirs. Bhullar said that he, along with other leaders, tried their level best to pacify the crowd but some persons from other towns had turned violent.

Another dera follower sets himself afire

Bathinda, Sham Sunder Bansal, a young follower of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda today attempted self-immolation in Paras Ram Nagar area of here late evening today.
Bansal, who deals in electronic business, attempted self-immolation after a function organised to bring a large section of dera followers back into the fold of Sikhism in Gurdwara Tungwali in Paras Ram Nagar got over.
Harwinder Sharma, an eyewitnesses, said four persons were standing near the gurdwara when they saw a ball of fire coming towards them. Bansal, who had used kerosene to set himself afire, suffered 70 to 80 pc burns. He was conscious when taken to hospital.

SAD (A) to boycott Ratia conference

Amritsar, The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) will not participate in the panthic conference to be held in Ratia in Haryana on July 11. Akal Takht is organising the conference. The SAD (A) is apprehensive about the safety of the Sikhs who are in minority there.
Ram Singh general secretary SAD (A) said here today the party would participate in the conference only if Akal Takh Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti assured them life and property of the Sikhs living in Haryana would be safe besides changing the site of the conference. He said Jathedar Vedanti should also assure the Sikhs that no untoward incident would take place which could harm interests of the community in that state.
Ram Singh said a delegation of the pary would soon meet union home minister Shivraj Patil, in New Delhi to apprise him of the atrocities committed by the SAD-BJP government on the party workers and the members of the minority communities in the state. He said if the union government failed to provide any relief they would be forced to meet the President in this regard.
Meanwhile, Jathedar Vedanti has clarified the panthic conference would be held in Ratia at all costs. He said the Haryana government would be responsible if any untoward incident happened at the site of the conference. He also appealed to the Sikhs in the country and abroad for launching peaceful campaign against the dera.
A meeting of the Sikh high priests was also held at Akal Takht to reconsider the letter issued by the dera chief on June 27 for seeking forgiveness. Rejecting the ‘mafinama’ the resolution said it was simply a press note without any signatures and was not addressed to anyone.

Dera Row- Dharnas before houses of Badal, Hooda today

Chandigarh/Mohali, The 15-member Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) will lead a gathering of 1,100 Sikhs to stage dharnas in front of the residence of the Punjab Chief Minister and Haryana Chief Minister here tomorrow.
Committee members are protesting against the alleged lackadaisical attitude of the two governments in taking action against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief and instead were clamping down on them.
“We will be gathering at the historic Amb Sahib Gurdwara tomorrow morning and then move to the residences of the Punjab and Haryana Chief Ministers where we will stage a dharna from 12 noon to 2 pm. A memorandum of demands will also be handed over to them,” said Gurdeep Singh Bathinda, member of the advisory committee of the KAC and general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (1920).
The Chandigarh police has, however, banned the entry of the gathering into the city. “Section 144 of the CrPC has been promulgated here. We have asked the Mohali police to contain the gathering at Mohali,” said SSP Chandigarh Dinesh Bhatt. “However, arrangements have been made to allow a small contingent of the protesters to meet the two Chief Ministers and submit their charter of demands,” he added.
The Mohali police has made elaborate arrangements at the Amb Sahib Gurdwara to contain the crowd. IG Range L.K. Tewari held a meeting of senior police officers outside the gurdwara this evening. “We have made arrangements to contain a gathering of over 2,000 persons,” said SSP Mohali Ranbir Singh Khatra.
The committee members have promised the march to Chandigarh would be peaceful. “We have directed our workers not to bring any swords or lathis,” said Gurdeep Singh. The assurance notwithstanding, over a 1,000 policemen will be on duty at the gurdwara tomorrow.
The Chandigarh police has also called for four companies from Punjab and two from Haryana to deal with the situation.
Security at the residences of the Chief Ministers and Governors of the two states has also been enhanced.
The Khalsa Action Committee comprises representatives of the state’s hardliner groups including Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), SAD (1920), Dal Khalsa, Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Damdami Taksal, Sant Samaj, International Human Rights Organization (IHRO), Sikh Students Federation, Delhi Shiromani Akali Dal and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee among others.
Daljit Singh Bittu, Jasbir Singh Rode, Ravi Inder Singh, Mohkam Singh, Paramjit Singh and B.S. Gill are expected to lead the protest.
Listing their demands, Gurdeep Singh said the Punjab Government did not have to wait for court warrants to arrest the dera chief.

Only baptised Sikh should lead SAD: Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa of Damdami Taksal

Mandi Ahmedgarh, Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa of Damdami Taksal, who is also a member of the Sant Samaj, yesterday observed that only a baptised Sikh should lead the SAD as only such a person could become a role model and stem the tide against the increasing apostasy among the community.
To the utter dismay of party acting chief Sukhbir Badal and his supporters, he suggested that Sukhbir get baptised immediately if he wanted to continue to lead the Sikh community in general and the Panthic party in particular.
Visibly stung by the statement, senior leaders could be seen smarting under the comment which was greatly appreciated by the audience.
He was addressing a gathering at Gurdwara Ram Sar at Kaind village, near here, on the occasion of the fourth death anniversary of Sant Mohinder Singh.
Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa, who is also president of the Gurmat Sidhant Parchar Committee, alleged that it was the apathy of Sikh leaders in propagating Sikhism in the northern states, including Punjab, which was responsible for the mushrooming of deras and anti-Sikh forces.
Later, during a meeting chaired by Badal, various constituents of the Sant Samaj accused the state police of shielding Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim who, according to them, should have been arrested by now.
"The police not only helped him by delaying the process for his arrest, it also did not seize his passport also," alleged Baba Harnam Singh maintaining that the court had directed the police to take the travel document in its possession.
After giving a patient hearing to the office-bearers of the Sant Samaj, Sukhbir Badal said, "Within two days, you will find that necessary action on the part of the state government has been taken." The administration was supposed to act according to the orders of the court, he added.

Police Lathicharged Sikhs in Firozpur

Tension prevailed in Firozpore over function of dera sauda sirsa (DSS). Members of various SIkh organizations gathered to stop the function of dera. Police personal was deployed in large number. As the situation was very tense souda function was stoped. After that Sikh Bodies were demaning removal of boards of dera which was carring Sikh Symbols. Here they come in conflict with police. Police used tear gas and fired rubber bulits on Sikhs. In this lathicahrge some Sikhs are injurred. Sources says Police have registered cases against the organisation leaders including Harpal Singh Bhullar, Paramjit Singh Kalsi, Jaspal Singh, Udik Singh Kunde, Dilbagh Singh, Lakhwinder Singh Ladda, Balwinder Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Rajinder Singh, Harjinder Singh and Gurvinder Singh besides some unidentified persons. The charges include defying magisterial orders, instigating the crowd and causing injuries to policemen.

Punjab Police brutally beats Sikh protesters protesting misuse of 'Ek Onkar' emblem

Ferozepur: The already tense social fabric in Punjab is giving way increasingly in small towns and congested clusters of population where the agitated Sikhs are trying to give expression to their rage after the clear directive from Akal Takht against Dera Sacha Sauda.
Only on Sunday, hundreds of Sikh activists clashed with the police following an alleged attempt to storm a Dera Sacha Sauda base on the Ferozepur-Hussainiwala road. Nearly 30 Sikh protesters were injured as the policemen unleashed lathis even when all they were doing was to protest against the antics of a person who, even the Chief Minister has conceded, has committed extremely reprehensible act and has provoked an entire community.
The Sikh protesters wanted to prevent holding of "naam charcha at the Dera premises. After the program was cancelled following a request from the administration to the cult, the agitators wanted that the Dera people wipe off the words "Ek Onkar" from one of the walls of the Dera. It was not in dispute that the words had no business to be on the Dera wall, particularly when the Dera men do not consider themselves Sikhs and are not ready to submit themselves before the Akal Takht.
The protesters had started gathering since early morning with sticks and swords near the Dera premises - Sikhs had earlier declared "nam charca" would not be allowed. Though the district administration had convinced the Dera not to hold the function today, heavy police was still deployed to tackle any situation. A five-member delegation of Sikhs was also taken inside the Dera premises by Ferozepur SDM D.P.S. Kharbanda to convince them that "nam charcha" was not being held.
But the protesters' insistence on erasing "Ek Omkar" soon developed into a violent attempt at ransacking the premises. As the protesters raised slogans in favour of Khalistan and Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the police retaliated with water cannons and teargas, later unleasing the lathi charge.
The clash left about two dozen Sikh activists and seven policemen injured. Officiating Ferozepur Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari said the situation had been brought fully under control. In Punjab, it often means that the people have been beaten up soundly for them not to return for some time.
Creating cause for further provocation, the police has registered a criminal case against Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) activists Bhai Jaspal Singh and Paramjit Singh Kalsi and one Dilbag Singh besides 11 other persons under Sections 307, 353, 323, 186, 188, 182, 151, 152, 153, 332, 148 and 149 of the IPC at Ferozepur Sadar police station.
Meanwhile, paramilitary forces and the state police have cordoned off the area and sealed all roads leading to the Dera base, situated only a few kilometres from the IndoPak border.

Police stop Sikh marchers on Chandigarh outskirts

Chandigarh : Punjab Police Monday prevented thousands of Sikhs from proceeding into the city in a protest march against Dera Sacha Sauda chief, Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh.
The police stopped the marchers at Mohali town, 10 km from here, after they started from Gurudwara Amb Sahib. The marchers were planning to hold a demonstration outside the official residences of the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana.
The protestors then gathered at a nearby ground for a rally.
There were many policemen present to prevent the protestors from reaching Chandigarh.
The Chandigarh police put up barricades and stationed riot police at the city's border crossover points with Punjab. Security barricades were also put up outside the homes of both chief ministers and on the road leading to the governor's houses.
The march call was given by the Khalsa Action Committee, a joint group of various religious and radical Sikh organisations like Dal Khalsa and Damdami Taksal.
The protestors had planned to hold rallies outside the residences of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Haryana counterpart Bhupinder Singh Hooda to demand the arrest of the Dera chief and action against him.
The Dera chief earned the ire of the Sikh community after he portrayed himself as the 10th Sikh guru, Gobind Singh, in May. The Sikh clergy and leaders have been demanding his arrest since then for hurting religious sentiments.
The sect godman lives near Sirsa town in neighbouring Haryana, 300 km from here.
He got interim bail from the Punjab and Haryana High Court after a Bathinda court in Punjab issued an arrest warrant against him for allegedly hurting Sikh religious sentiments.
In Amritsar, The Akal Takht, highest temporal seat of Sikhs, and the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), mini-parliament for Sikh affairs, indicated that a full apology from the sect chief could be considered to defuse the situation.
The dera chief had earlier sent two apparently reluctant apologies, which were rejected by the Akal Takht.
Akal Takht chief, Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, said Sunday that a rally called by Sikhs at Ratia town in Fatehabad district of Haryana, 15 km from the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa, would be held as scheduled July 11.
The chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana met along with senior civil and police officials to discuss the holding of the Sikh rally in Haryana. Hooda urged Badal to impress upon Sikh religious leaders not to hold the rally in Haryana as it could lead to tension between the Sikh community and dera followers.
Punjab had witnessed large-scale violence in May after the controversy erupted. The Haryana government does not want the Punjab-centric problem to spill over to the next state and lead to violence.

Sikh clergy stays firm on Ratia convention
Jathedar Vedanti says dera magazine distorting Gurbani

Amritsar, : Sikh high priests today issued fresh appeal to the community to make the July 11 Sikh congregation at Ratia a mega success. Continuing with their tirade against Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, they reiterated that the "apology" issued last month was just a "press note".
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti read the 'Gurmata' and said Dera's in-house magazine 'Sachi Shiksha' has been distorting Gurbani. Without saying anything on further action against the dera head, Vedanti said Sikhs did not need permission from the Haryana government to hold the convention.
"The edict has already been issued, and the entire community must follow it," said the Jathedar, adding that by imitating Guru Gobind Singh, the dera head had indulged in blasphemy for which he could not be forgiven. "We have received reports that dera's magazine is using verses from Guru Granth Sahib and distorting the Sikh philosophy. The dera head must stop this immediately," he said.
Asking the Haryana government not to stop the Sikhs from converging at Ratia, he said they would not apply for any request to hold the congregation as it was their right to protest against the controversial dera head. "No slogans or unwarranted acts should be followed," he said.
Notably, the Sikh clerics had been furious with the way the dera had worded and later re-worded the apology. "It (apology) bore no signatures. Ram Rahim Singh, who is too egoistic, does not want peace and harmony to prevail," said Vedanti.
However, SAD (A) general secretary Bhai Ram Singh and son of Simranjit Singh Mann Imman Singh today said Ratia was not the right place for the Sikh congregation. "Sikhs are not safe in Punjab, where Badal is at the helm of affairs. How could they be safe in Ratia? We are thinking of avoiding the meet. Instead, we will have our own Panthic gathering in Sunam on July 22 and meet the Punjab Governor on August 3," said Mann.
When asked about some SGPC members from Haryana opposing the Sikh congregation, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Jathedar Avtar Singh said the SAD (Badal) and the
SGPC were committed to hold the gathering and it would be a mega success.

Differences crop up between Mann and KAC

CHANDIGARH: Sharp differences reported to have cropped up between Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Simranjit Singh Mann and rest of the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC), which is spearheading agitation against Dera Sacha Sauda chief.
The SAD(Amritsar) sources said that Mann had decided to keet distance from from KAC owing to certain principles. SAD(Amritsar) senior leader Emaan Singh Mann Monday admitted his party's differences with KAC but he refused to comment when asked whether his party had dissociated itself from KAC. He said that his party has chalked out its own programmes and following these programmes.
Earlier, Delhi Sikh Gurdawara Management Committee(DSGMC) president Paramjit Singh Sarna had deviated from the line of action adopted by KAC and he was removed from the convenor ship of committee. Sarna had mediated to secure second apology from dera Sacha Sauda.
Sources said that Mann's party was not satisfied with the working of some members of KAC. Sources said that there is even groupism in the party on some members of the KAC. The party had already declared not to participate in the panthic conference to be held in Ratia in Haryana on July 11. Akal Takht is organising the conference and KAC had already announced to support this call of Akal Takht.
It may be mentioned that in a memorandum to Punjab Chief Minister , the KAC demanded unconditionally release and withdrew cases of the Sikh leaders, including Simranjit Singh Mann and Daljit Singh Bittu who have been booked due to political reasons. It was also submitted that Mann is being kept behind bars only to stall his political activities that could be directed against the dera chief and his co-cultists while Bittu is being terrorised into silence only because he is a leading member (co-convenor) of the KAC.
When contacted Kanwarpal Singh active member of KAC said that SAD(Amritsar) had not dissociated itself from KAC.

Akal Takht reiterates decision to hold Sikh conclave in Haryana on July 11

AMRITSAR: The Sikh clergy Sunday at a meeting held at Amritsar reiterated its decision to hold the Sikh conclave at Ratia in Haryana on Jukly 11 to seek arreest of dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh. The Sikh high priests turned down the demand to put off the proposed Sikh confernece.

The Haryana government had expressed its reservations to allow the Sikh conclave because dera Sacha Sauda has also sought permission of the district administration to hold its parallel congregation.
Jatehdar Akal Takht (highest Sikh temporal seat) Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti said after the meeting that large congrehgation of Sikh community at Ratia would be held on July 11 despite Haryana government decision not to grant permission.
Vedanti said that they didn't need permission of Haryana government since conference would be held inside the Gurdwara (Sikh shrine). "We have not asked Haryana government for permission and neither Sikhs require permission to hold its functions inside the Gurdawara", Vedanti said.
Adding further Vedanti said that it would be peaceful program being organised to mount pressure on Haryana Government to arrest Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh who had hurt the sentiment of Sikh community. All the Sikh High Priests would attent the gathering, Vedanti added.
Talking about the apology tendered by the sect Dera Sacha Sauda on second time, Vedanti said that it was a kind of press note and not proper apology. The language used in the press note sent by Saca Sauda was describing the dictatorial attitude reflecting cunningness and ego, said Vedanti.Vedanti said that if fresh apology is tendered by the Dera Sacha Sauda in a proper and respectful manne, may be considered once again.
Vedanti said that Gurmit Ram Rahim facing charges of murder and rape and present activities of Dera creating hatred and disturbing the peaceful atmosphere of Punjab.
Today meeting of Sikh clergy was attended by Jatehdar Akal Takht Gyani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jatehdar Takht Patna Sahib Iqbal Singh, Jatehdar Takht Kesgarh Sahib Tarlochan Singh, Jatehdar Balwant Singh Nandgarh of Takht Dam Dama Sahib and Priest Golden Temple Jagtar Singh.
Vedanti today once again asked the Sikh community living in India and abroad to follow the edict issued from Akal Takht on May 29 this year by which Sikhs have been directed to boycott dera followers.
On May 29 edict, Akal Takht has described the Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh arrogant, mischievous and cunning. Vedanti in his statement had called upon all the Sikh organizations to assemble on single platform to tackle present ongoing the situation.
It may be mentioned here the earlier on June 20, a court in Bhatinda issued arrest warrant against Dera Sacha Sauda chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs.
And same day on June 20, DSGMC Parmajit Singh Sarna he has received the second time draft from the Dera Sacha Suada consisting apology and further it was forwarded to Akal Takht Amritsar.
On June 27 Akal Takht has rejected second apology tendered by the Dera Sacha Sauda. Earlier on May 30, Sikh clergy had outrightly rejected the first apology of Dera Sacha Sauda while directing the Sikh community to continue politically and socially boycott Dera in a peaceful manner.
The Dera chief got stuck into a quagmire of 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. Following this nationwide violence broke out in which hundreds of people were injured and one was killed.

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