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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Latest Breaking News from Punjab: Tuesday 10th July 2007

Dera row: Ratia Sikh conclave postponed Decision divides Sikh clergy

Amritsar, Jathedar Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti has postponed the Sikh conclave, scheduled for July 11 at Ratia in Haryana following tremendous pressure from various quarters. This was stated in a press note, issued on the letter head of Akal Takht this evening here.
However, the decision left the Sikh clergy divided even as Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib expressed surprise over the issuance of the press note. The Sikh high priests yesterday announced that “come what may” the Sikh conclave would be held as per schedule.
However, with the volte-face, the Sikh masses in general and SGPC members from Haryana and Tarlochan Singh, a Rajya Sabha member from Haryana, have expressed happiness over the decision of the Jathedar Akal Takht.
The decision to postpone the Sikh conclave had been taken in the larger interest of the Sikh community. Jathedar Vedanti said the decision to postpone the Panthic conclave had been taken in the wake of the developments which were not in the interest of the Sikh community.
Sirsa: Dera Sacha Sauda has decided to postpone its scheduled discourse programme to be held at Ratia in Fatehabad district on July 11 after holding a meeting with the peace committee and officials this evening. The dera will now organise the discourse on July 12.

Khalsa march fizzles out

Mohali, The Khalsa march led by Khalsa Action Committee members fizzled out here this afternoon when the Mohali police stopped them outside Gurdwara Amb Sahib. Terming the move as death of democracy in the state, committee members announced that the Akali government had violated the orders of Akal Takht in stopping them from carrying out the Takht’s instructions.
The committee had asked Sikhs to gather at the gurdwara this morning and march to the residence of the Chief Ministers, Punjab and Haryana, to protest against the lackadaisical attitude of the two governments in taking action against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief.
Donning black overalls, the committee members, leading a group of about 200 persons, walked out of the gurdwara but were stopped there by the police. Chanting “waheguru, waheguru”, the group remained peaceful. Rejecting the offer of the Chandigarh police to take a contingent of representatives to the houses of the two Chief Ministers to hand over their charter of demands, the protesters sat down on the road amid heavy police presence.
Addressing the group, Karnail Singh Panjoli said the state government should not have interfered like this. “We were given assurances by Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal that we would not be stopped. Even the DGP talked to us this morning and told us that we would be allowed to go up to the border of Chandigarh,” he said. Ravinder Singh of Shiromani Akali Dal (1920) alleged that the Punjab government was in unison with the dera chief.
Later, it was decided that the officers on special duty to the two Chief Ministers be called to the spot to accept the memorandum. N.S. Sangha. OSD to Punjab Chief Minister, and M.S. Chopra, OSD to Chief Minister, Haryana, accompanied by Ram Kishan, chief parliamentary secretary, Haryana, accepted the memorandum. In it the committee members have pointed out that due to the laxity in dealing with the dera issue the “cult leader and his so called ‘premis’ have become more offensive and their targets are mostly the mainstream Sikhs.”
The members demanded the release of Simranjit Singh Mann and withdrawal of cases against Daljit Singh Bittu and all those Sikhs who were active during Sikh agitations against the cultists. “This is the last time we are handing over memorandums to the government. After this we will only stage protests,” said Panjoli.
The committee members alleged that the police stopped a large number of their supporters all across the state.
Meanwhile, SSP, Mohali, R.S. Khatra said Section 144 of the CrPC had been promulgated in the district and a special permission was required for the march, which the protestors did not bother to procure. “We had no option but to stop them from collecting and moving forward,” he said.

Suicide bid Dera follower dead
Kiosk burnt

Sangrur, The tea stall of a follower of Dera Sacha Sauda, Om Parkash, was burnt by unidentified persons near the old truck union office here last night. A complaint in this regard had been lodged with the police by the dera followers.
Bathinda, July 9Shyam Sunder Bansal, a follower of Dera Sacha Sauda, who attempted self-immolation in this town last evening, died at Safdarjang Hospital, New Delhi tonight. Shyam Sunder Bansal had suffered more than 70 per cent burns.
A criminal case had been registered against Sham Sunder Bansal for attempting self-immolation in Paras Ram Nagar area of this town late last evening.
Nau Nihal Singh, SSP, said a case under Section 309 of the IPC was registered against Sham Sunder.
Sham Sunder made the attempt after a function organised in connection with bringing a large section of dera followers back into the fold of Sikhism at Gurdwara Tungwali got over. It was organised by a local Akali worker.
He was first taken to the local civil hospital. He was later shifted to a Delhi-based hospital.
Harwinder Sharma, one of the eyewitnesses, said he was standing along with four persons when they saw Sham Sunder in flames. He pointed out that Sham Sunder was crying for help. He added that they managed to douse the flames and arranged the vehicle to take him to the hospital.
However, the SSP said so far he has not received any complaint in this connection.
Sham Sunder in his statement to the police had said that he took the extreme step as he could not tolerate the harassment being done to the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda by members of a Sikh organisation. He also recorded that he could not tolerate what was being done to the followers by a section of society.
Interestingly, the police officials, who accompanied the patient, took plain papers from the police post, Pathrala, to record the statement.

‘Amrit sanchar’ drive from July 15

Amritsar, To counter the dera culture and social evils and give direction to the youth of the state, the SGPC has decided to launch an “amrit sanchar” drive in different parts of the state from July 15.
SGPC president Avtar Singh here today released the schedule of various programmes to be held as part of the drive. He said the “dharam prachar” drive had also been launched under the supervision of SGPC members in their areas.

SGPC delegation meets Patil

Amritsar, A four-member delegation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), led by its president Avtar Singh Makkar, met union home minister Shivraj Patil today for immediately stopping the unfortunate activities of the Dera Sacha Sauda and speeding up the probe in the serious charges of rape and murder against the dera chief.
The delegation included senior vice-president Dalmegh Singh Secretary and Iqbal Singh Media advisor of the SGPC.
Makkar urged the home minister to speed up the action against the dera chief so that the peaceful environment of Punjab was not disturbed.

Seeking bail, SAD (A) leader says case against him false

Chandigarh, Senior vice-president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Daljit Singh, alias Bittu, today claimed he was booked on false allegations of raising seditious slogans during a peaceful march as the ruling party solely wanted to gain political mileage out of the Dera Sacha Sauda issue.
In his application filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court for pre-arrest bail, Bittu claimed that the ruling SAD did not appreciate the participation of other groups in peaceful marches organised by the Sikh community. In an attempt to prevent his party from coming into the limelight by taking part in one such march, a false case was planted on him, he added.
Going into the background of the matter, he said a first information report was registered on May 31 under Sections 124-A, 153-A, 341 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code at Fatehgarh Sahib police station. The main allegations against him were that he had raised slogans which fell under the definition of seditious uttering during a march the same day. Taking up the petition, Mr Justice L.N. Mittal of the high court today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab. The case will now come up on August 3 for further hearing.

Sikh Protesters Stoped From Entring in Chandigarh by Punjab Police

Frsutrating the plans of the panthic bodies under the banner of Khalsa Action Committee to march to the residences of the Punjab and Haryana Chief Ministers, the Punjab Police prevented a march of hundreds of Sikhs protesters against Sacha Sauda dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim from entering Chandigarh. The representatives of the Chief Ministers reached Mohali to collect the memorandums, signed by Bhai Mohkam Singh, Kanwar Pal Singh, Karnail Singh Panjoli, Gurdip Singh Bhatinda and Paramjit Singh Gazi. Two representatives, Udham Singh and Jaswant SIngh (Haryana) were selected from sangat to hand-over memorandum, as no prominent personailty came to receive it.The march was stopped in Mohali itself after they it from Gurudwara Amb Sahib. The marchers were to sit on a dharna in front of the official residences of the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana. The protesters then got together into an impromptu rally after seeing that they will be forcibly stopped as the Chandigarh police had put up barricades and stationed riot police at the city's border crossover points with Punjab.

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.

Akal Takht postpones Ratia rally after pressure mounted on Badal govt

Chandigarh: As concerns over maintaining peace grew in view of the proposed Sikh Sammelan at Ratia in Haryana, the top Sikh clergy led by Akal Takht jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti on Monday evening announced postponement of the rally citing their desire to maintain peace.
The decision, announced by the Akal Takht secretariat around 7 pm Monday evening India time, is likely to be viewed as backtracking by many panthic bodies, particularly because it comes after a pattern of moves by the clergy which involved two steps forward, one step backward strategy repeatedly.
The call for the rally was given by the Akal Takht a fortnight ago when the clergy had met specially to consider the apology of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief on June 27. The clerics hadd rejected the apology and had issued a separate Gurmata for the Ratia rally.
After consistently maintaining that the Akal Takht orders can never be altered or taken back, the postponement of the rally is likely to lead to serious issues within the Sikh community. The Punjab Government was under considerable pressure from the Haryana government on the question of the rally.
Particularly, the postponement comes after expressions of concern and reports that it was giving anxious moments to the Haryana government and Haryana police as thousands of Sikhs were expected to participate in it at a venue which is barely 15 km away from the Dera Sacha Sauda sect headquarters in Sirsa.
Moreover, the sect management had also called for a big prayer meeting of its followers at its headquarters on the same day - which has now been postponed by a day.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Haryana counterpart Bhupinder Singh Hooda as well as senior civil and police officials from both states had met last week to discuss the issue. The Haryana government was apprehensive that the rally could lead to violence.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the dera head, is accused in a murder case under investigation by the CBI and the Sikhs are enraged that he imitated the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, the Sikhs' Amrit Sanchar ceremony and uses lexicon typical of the Sikhs.

Punjab police thwarts KAC attempt for dharna at CM's residence

CHANDIGARH: Punjab police on Monday thwarted an attempt by the members of Khalsa Action Committee(KAC) formed by radical Sikh organisations to counter dera Sacha Sauda from holding a dharna in front of residences of Punjab and Haryana Chief Ministers here.
The KAC members and their supporters had announced to hold dharna to press for the arrest of dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh who is booked by Punjab police in a case of blasphemy. Yet, Akal Takht has also convened a Sikh conclave in Ratia in Haryana on July 11 on same issue.
About 500 activists of various Sikh organistions led by KAC convener Bhai Mohkam Singh of Damdami Taksal assembled at Gurdawara Amb Sahib in Mohali and started marching towards Chandigarh. They however were stopped by strong police contingent from moving forward. The KAC started dharna at Mohali and asked the police authorities to ask Punjab and Haryana Chief Minister to come there to accept the memorandum.
The both government's had sent their respective OSD's to collect the memorandum. Kanwarpal Singh Bittu secretary general of Dal Khalsa said that it was unfortunate that state governments had sent bureaucrats to collect memorandum whereas either CM's themselves or any senior minister should have come.
He said that they were told that Chandigarh administration had imposed prohibitory orders under section 144 in city. He wondered that then Chandigarh police should have stopped them at the city border but why Punjab police has stopped them from holding march.

Dera issue: KAC blames Punjab, Haryana govt for laxity

CHANDIGARH: The Khalsa Action Committee on Monday in separate memorendum submitted to Punjab and Haryana governments has demanded immediate arrest of dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh to save the law and order situation.
The memorandum submitted to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said, " Due to laxity in dealing with such a sensitive issue, the cult leader and his so-called premis have become more offensive, and their targets are mostly the mainstream Sikhs, who are committed to Akal Takht and its edicts issued in this regard from time to time. No Sikh worth his salt, will continue to tolerate the illegal activities of the Dera head who had attired himself like Guru Gobind Singh and tried to negate (or equate) the Amrit of the Guru. The worldwide reaction of the Sikhs to the blasphemous activity of the dera is a testimony to this".
It further said that regrettably justice to the Sikhs seems in jeopardy in Punjab and Haryana. The laxity on part of Punjab and Haryana administrations notwithstanding, the Centre and the higher judiciary are either sleeping over such a sensitive issue or lacking a proper vision (will) to deal with the matter. Not only that, the Opposition leader in the Punjab State Assembly openly supports the cause of the criminal cult leader just for petty electoral gains. It seems that the Congress did not learn any lesson from the past.
The KAC has quoted that Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Master has proclaimed it earlier at Dina Kangar, in his Zafarnama, that: 'When all other means of resistance against tyranny and oppression fail, it is legitimate, as a last resort, to turn to the sword.'
Addressing Badal, the memo said that in the given situation, you need to immediately neutralise your political enemies within the Panth and counter the others, especially the Congress which is at the back of this episode, by becoming proactive to act against this menace.
The KAC stated that the dera head should be arrested along with his coterie of advisors (spokespersons) under 120-B of the IPC in all these incidents as they have deliberately and maliciously instigated the offenders.
As far as the case under section 295-A of the IPC against the dera head and others is concerned, any apology whatsoever it may be, does not absolve the culprits as the case is non-compoundable. Any relief from the High Court under section 438 Cr P C is a misnomer and it should be effectively challenged forthwith, it added.
In the memorendum submitted to Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the KAC said that due to laxity in dealing with such a sensitive issue, the cult leader and his so-called premis have become more offensive, and their targets are mostly the mainstream Sikhs, who are committed to Akal Takht and its edicts issued in this regard from time to time. No Sikh worth his salt, will continue to tolerate the illegal activities of the Dera head who had attired himself like Guru Gobind Singh and tried to negate (or equate) the Amrit of the Guru. The worldwide reaction of the Sikhs to the blasphemous activity of the dera is a testimony to this.
It said that the response of the Haryana Congress to the Sikh nation is not encouraging either. We are afraid it may not go the Bhajan Lal way in your state. Sikhs have not forgotten the Haryana government’s role vis-à-vis the Sikhs during the Asian games in 1982. We, for sure, know that no responsible head of a state government would allow the situation to deteriorate and ultimately face the music himself.
The KAC said that no one among them has any explanation as to why your government had failed to bring to book the cult head in rape and murder cases, why the Indian premier investigation agency, the CBI, has become a baby cat before the dera head, thus rendering the Hon’ble HC ineffective, and why your government is dragging it's feet from the matter.
The KAC has demanded to register case against dera head in Haryana on the pattern of Punjab and lend full support and cooperation to the Punjab government to bell the "wolf- the sinner" and put him behind the bars.
The foremost thing needs to be done by your government is to ban and seal the Dera premises or deras wherein these illegal and immoral activities are carried out, almost daily, the KAC told Haryana CM.

Dera trouble sparks in Majha too

Dera controversy has hit Majha region too. A violent clash was today averted in Gaggo-Bua village in neighbouring Tarn Taran district, following which the police made elaborate security arrangements.
According to the eyewitnesses, the trouble started when a group of Sikhs, representing Damdami Taksal and local Satkar Committee, allegedly went to the house of Harjit Singh, a Dera Sacha Sauda follower, after they received information that he had hung the photograph of dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh above that of Guru Gobind Singh.
Harjit, a retired Punjab Police employee, first resisted the move, but on seeing the pressure rising, agreed to remove the portrait of the dera head. The senior residents of the village intervened and the matter was resolved. Meanwhile, Harjit and Sikhs have filed separate complaints with the police and the situation was being said to be tense, but under control.
Tarn Taran DSP (City) Ranbir Singh said the police had received the complaint from Harjit against a group of Sikhs, who forcibly entered his house and threatened him with dire consequences.
He also confirmed that Sikhs leaders too have filed a cross complaint against Harjit Singh for hurting religious sentiments of the community. In the complaint, the Damdami Taksal alleged that they feared that Harjit would hold dera’s religious function in the area shortly.

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