Friday, October 03, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Bhai Sahib Bhai Kuldeep Singh Ji (Javadi Kala Wale) will be doing kirtan on Sunday 28th September 2008 from 7:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m at Shri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Clarence Place, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 1LD.
Please attend and enjoy great kirtan. The Kirtan darbar is being held by Guru Nanak Komal Sangeet Academy Gravesend in partnership with Kent Kirtan Society.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Please attend and enjoy great kirtan. The Kirtan darbar is being held by Guru Nanak Komal Sangeet Academy Gravesend in partnership with Kent Kirtan Society.
Friday, August 08, 2008
“The distinct identity of the Sikhs should be a source of inspiration for the world,” he said.
Seeking immediate arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the newly installed Jathedar asked the Central and Haryana governments to seal his dera in Sirsa and its branches.
Answering a question, Giani Gurbachan Singh said he would discuss with other Sikh clerics in case the dera chief offered to appear before Akal Takht as a humble Sikh.
To yet another question whether he would ask Shiromani Akali Dal supremo to get baptised, he simply said: “We will try”. He, however, said he would personally monitor the movement of “Amrit Parchar”.
Sikh clerics from Takht Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib, SGPC chief, Nihang sects, Akali factions, student federations and Nirmala Sants, etc, presented the Jathedar with “Dastars” (turbans) in the presence of a moderate gathering. SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra hoped that the new Jathedar would be instrumental in resolving all the pending issues of the Sikh community.
However, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the outgoing Jathedar, was conspicuous by his absence at the installation ceremony. Giani Puran Singh, who had been unceremoniously removed as Jathedar of Akal Takht by the SGPC eight years ago, presented Dastar to the new Jathedar. Vedanti succeeded him then.
SGPC chief Avtar Singh said former Jathedar did not turn up at the function though Harbhajan Singh, manager of the Darbar Sahib visited his residence yesterday to invite him for the ceremony. He said Vedanti had tendered his resignation due to “ill-health” and the committee appreciated his services as Jathedar and Granthi of the Golden Temple. When asked that Vedanti had told the media that he was forced to quit, he said it was an afterthought.
The SGPC president said strict action would be taken against those officials who had locked the Akal Takht secretariat with a view to stopping the entry of Vedanti into it.
The SGPC president said the long-pending matter of appointing a religious adviser to the Jathedar of Akal Takht would be made if Jathedar Gurbachan Singh desired so. Former Jathedar Vedanti had sent a number of reminders to the SGPC to appoint religious adviser to streamline the functioning of the Akal Takht secretariat.
Giani Gurbachan Singh was one of the signatories to the “Gurmatta”, which had reversed the controversial edicts pronounced by Giani Iqbal Singh from Takht Patna Sahib. The Patna clergy had impeached Jathedars of three Takhts of Punjab, Akal Takht, Takht Damdama Sahib and Takht Kesgarh Sahib, besides the Head Granthi (now Jathedar Akal Takht) and Granthi of the Golden Temple, debarring their involvement in any Panthic activity.
The decision of Giani Gurbachan Singh to lift the ban on Giani Iqbal Singh may cause embarrassment to the SGPC, which had been demanding the latter’s resignation.
In an e-mail to The Tribune, Rai said he would also move the UNO against the SGPC and the Government of India for violating the Gurdwara Act, passed by the Lok Sabha in 1925.
It added the statutory body SGPC had gone beyond its limit as permitted under Article 25 (a) of managing shrines and other gurdwaras by unilaterally assuming authority and responsibility to manage, appoint and influence the highest temporal office of the Sikh community.
New Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh on Thursday said that he would soon convene a meeting of five Sikh High Priests to chalk out Panthic strategy on tackling the lingering Dera Sacha Sauda row.
Talking to reporters in Amritsar soon after he was installed as Jathedar of the Akal Takht, the higest temporal seat of the Sikhs, he asked the Sikh community to abjure confrontation with the Dera Sacha Sauda sect.
The top cleric said a meeting of five Sikh High Priests would be held soon at the Akat Takht secretariat in the Golden Temple to chalk out Panthic strategy on the Dera Sacha Sauda row.
He sought help of Punjab, Haryana and Union governments in curbing what he said anti-Sikh activities being carried out by the sect.
Last year, Joginder Singh Vedanti, who quit as Akal Takht Jathedar two days ago, issued an edict calling upon Sikhs to boycott the Dera Sacha Sauda.
Calling for maintaining peace and tranquillity in Punjab, the new Jathedar asked Sikhs not to get provoked by activities of the sect.
He said he was hopeful those who were involved in acts of violence against the Sikhs would be punished by courts.
The top cleric said services of SGPC, a statutory body which manages affairs of Sikh shrines, would be sought to tackle the contentious issue.
Earlier, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar told the gathering at the coronation ceremony that the installation of the new Jathedar would help solve the Dera row.
Praising PM led to Akal Takht top priest's removal
What led to the sacking of Joginder Singh Vedanti as the head priest of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs? "I was sacked," said Vedanti, "because I supported Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the crucial trust vote." It is learnt that a top delegation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee, including its president Avtar Singh Makkar, general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bahur and executive committee member Rajinder Singh Mehta rushed to Vedanti to collect his resignation letter. Though they deny that they were involved, Vedanti told rediff.com on Wednesday that he was forced to resign and Giani Gurbachan Singh was appointed in his place.
"Some days ago, the three of them came to me and asked me to resign. They were very angry and told me that some of my remarks had upset their political partners. I told them that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, as a Sikh, has done the nation proud. If that has upset their political partners, then I don't have anything to say. I would say the same about Dr Singh again. He is honest and a true Sikh," Vedanti told rediff.com in a candid conversation. It is said Vedanti helped the prime minister in framing his speech during the trust vote, at least in the parts where he referred to Guru Gobind Singh.
To pacify the agitated officials who reportedly asked for his resignation at the instance of Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, Vedanti wrote out the resignation letter and handed it over to Bahur. "The moment they got the letter, they left. Appointments are done and cancelled, I have no quarrels. But I was pained at the manner in which it was carried out," he said. Makkar, however, denied Vedanti's claim. "We are willing to distribute copies of the resignation letter to the media to prove that it was written in his own handw," Makkar told this correspondent. Eleven out of the 13 executive committee members voted in favour of Vedanti's resignation while Karnail Singh Panjoli and Gurwinder Singh alleged that the letter was written under duress.
Vedanti has also been accused of supporting the demand for a separate homeland for Sikhs during his recent trip to the United States. "I never made such statements. You can browse newspapers in the US during that period. What I said was that wherever the Sikhs go, they carve out a separate state for themselves and our homeland has no boundaries. I still stand by that statement," Vedanti clarified.
Vedanti also came under attack for his poor handling of the Akali-Dera row and the Sant Samaj had sought his resignation. With Lok Sabha elections around the corner, Badal did not want to take any chances but wanted to keep the Sant Samaj happy.
Dhami, who hails from Hoshiarpur, did his MSc from DAV College, Jalandhar, in 1975. An industrialist, he had served the organisation as acting president from 2003 to 2005.
Dhami said the Dal Khalsa would follow a non-violent path to achieve its goals. However, he admitted that they had failed to transform the body into a mass-base organisation because of its hardliner image and the tendency of the people to stick to the powers that be.
‘They only want a team of yes man in Akal Takht, and if any leader tries to go against them, they just throw him out. The latest example is of unprincipled ousting of former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Joginder Singh Vedanti two days ago,’ said Kanwarpal Singh, general secretary of Dal Khalsa here Wednesday.
Vedanti resigned as Akal takht chief two days ago.
‘Badal and his son exploited Vedanti till he was of their use. Now they have elected Gurbachan Singh, the new Jathedar of Akal Takht, without consulting anyone and without any formal elections which are against the principles of Sikhism,’ claimed Singh.
Dal Khalsa demanded formulation of a proper procedure to elect the Akal Takht Jathedar.
Criticising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Dal Khalsa president Dhami said: ‘He is always helpless and always works under some pressure. He has not done even a single thing for the betterment of Sikh community in the country.’
‘Dal Khalsa is collaborating with other minority communities to formulate a policy to curb the human rights violations in the country,’ said Dhami.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Vedanti quits, Gurbachan Singh to be Takht Jathedar
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) that assembled here today accepted the resignation submitted by Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and appointed Giani Gurbachan Singh, head granthi of Harmandar Sahib, as president of the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs.
The meeting of the SGPC was held at Gurdwara Sri Hargobind Sahib and was presided over by Avtar Singh Makkar and attended by 13 of the 15 members. Vedanti had yesterday submitted his resignation to SGPC general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and executive member Rajinder Singh Mehta, in which he cited health reasons for resigning from the post.
The resignation was today read out by Makkar before the SGPC members and was accepted by 11 of the 13 members present during the meeting. Karnail Singh Panjoli and Gurwinder Singh raised objections against the resignation, alleging that Vedanti was being forced to resign as SAD chief Prakash Singh Badal wished so. Bhajan Kaur and Santok Singh did not attend the meeting.
Panjoli alleged that Vedanti had fallen off the good books of Badal for his having raised the demand for a separate state for the Sikhs during his recent visit to the US and for having asked Sikh MPs to support Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the N-deal issue in Parliament.
Panjoli said the manner in which Vedanti had been “forced to resign” without having been allowed time to put up his point of view was unacceptable.
Makkar told The Tribune that Vedanti had stated in his resignation that due to ill-health he was unable to continue as Akal Takht Jathedar and had requested the SGPC to appoint the next Jathedar of the Takht.
He said it had been decided to appoint Giani Gurbachan Singh as Akal Takht Jathedar and he would be sworn in on August 7 in the presence of various Sikh organisations.
He, however, refused to divulge the reasons behind Vedanti’s resignation.
Vedanti had been appointed Jathedar of Akal Takht in 2000. Recently, he came under attack from a number of Sikh organisations for his having failed to handle the Sikh-dera row with a “strong hand”.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee forced Giani Joginder Singh to resign as Jathedar Akal Takht . The resignation was accepted at a meeting of the SGPC executive committee held at Sri Hargobind Sahib, gurdwara ,Kurkushetra today.
SGPC general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and executive committee member Rajinder Singh Mehta visited the official residence of Jathedar Vedanti, here yesterday evening and sought his resignation. Jathedar Vedanti claimed both SGPC office-bearers threatened him with sack at today’s executive committee meeting if he did not step down. “I never wished to resign till tercentenary celebrations of “Gurta -Gaddi Diwas” of Guru Granth Sahib in October in Nanded Sahib (Maharashtra) but the SGPC forced me to resign”, he said. Almost all Sikh centenaries since 1999, including tercentenary of the birth of Khalsa Panth, the quadri-centenary of the foundation of Akal Takht, and 500th birth centenary of Baba Budha, were marred by controversies. The SGPC committee has made it known the Jathedar resigned on “health grounds”.
After removing Vedanti, the SGPC chief rushed to the residence of the Chief Minister at Chandigarh to apprise him about the development.
Panthic sources claimed Vedanti ,appointed by the SAD , dominated the SGPC as Jathedar on March 28, 2000 after sacking Giani Puran Singh as Jathedar, Akal Takht was the most pliable and controversial. A day after his installation as Jathedar, Akal Takht, Vedanti had revoked all controversial edicts made his predecessor Giani Puran Singh including the “excommunication” of Bibi Jagir Kaur, then SGPC chief , three Jathedars and some SGPC executive members . “He was the most controversial Jathedar ”, said Rajinder Singh Khalsa, convener Khalsa Panchayat the first to launch movement against Jathedar Vedanti in 2003 , following charges of corruption.
Vedanti had lauded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, days before Trust vote in Parliament. He had termed Manmohan Singh honest and true Sikh. Earlier, the Jathedar had irked the SAD and the SGPC for backing movement for separate state for the Sikhs , in April in Washington DC. Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC president Avtar Singh had sought his explanation for “irresponsible statement” in the USA. According to another view the SAD wanted to get rid of Vedanti to please the Sant Samaj with Lok Sabha elections in mind.
Jathedar Vedanti had not summoned Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family members during his eight years as Jathear Akal Takht.
Though the 13 out of 15 executive members had accepted the resignation of Jathedar Vedanti two members Karnail Singh Panjoli and Gurwinder Singh Shampura gave dissenting note alleging Jathedar Vedanti was removed under pressure of the RSS and the BJP and it was decided at a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the Akali Dal.
Recently Jathedar Vedanti came under attack from a number of Sikh organisations for having failed to handle the Sikh-Dera row '. The Sant Samaj , headed by Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa had sought his resignation for mishandling the Dera Sacha issue.
SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann has asked the SGPC to install Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar Akal Takht if it wanted to win over Sikh masses.
From sewadar to Akal Takht chief
Head granthi of the Golden Temple, Giani Gurbachan Singh, who has been appointed officiating Jathedar of Akal Takht, joined the SGPC as “sewadar” on February 29, 1972, at Darbar Sahib, Muktsar. In 36 years, his rise to head the temporal Sikh religious seat is indeed a remarkable achievement.
Born on April 6, 1948, in Chakk Baja village (Muktsar), the home district of the Chief Minister, Giani Gurbachan Singh is a confidant of the Badal family. Like outgoing Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and former high priest Giani Puran Singh, he is under-matriculate. Though Giani Gurbachan Singh, also a relative of Jathedar Vedanti, will be installed Jathedar on August 7, a number of Sikh organisations have criticised the SGPC and the SAD for ignoring the age-old Sikh Maryada connected with the installation.In 1996 Giani Gurbachan Singh was promoted from sewadar to granthi and katha vachak and then in 2004 head granthi of the Golden Temple.
He had been transferred from Muktsar to Dhamdhan gurdwara (Jind), Haryana, following a complaint of presenting siropa (robe of honour) to then home minister Buta Singh, during the period of his excommunication from the Sikh Panth. However, he was transferred back to Darbar Sahib after he clarified the siropa was actually presented to Joginder Singh Mann, a former Congress minister, who then handed it over to his uncle (Buta Singh).
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Please attend and enjoy great kirtan. The Kirtan darbar is being held by Guru Nanak Komal Sangeet Academy Gravesend in partnership with local sevadars.
✏ When Guruji stayed in Delhi there was a smallpox epidemic which resulted in many deaths. By Guruji's blessing, the lake at Bangla Sahib provided a cure for thousands. Exposing himself to his many devotees he too died of Smallpox. Thus he unselfishly, without the thought of danger to himself, served many people. This is true Sewa to care for the sick even at the risk of one's own life.
✏ Gurdwara Bangla Sahib was constructed in Guruji memory. This is where he stayed during his visit to Delhi. This was originally the palace of Raja Jai Singh, who was a strong Sikh and a devotee of the Guru.
✏ Guru Sahib caused the illiterate water-carrier named Chhaju Ram to expound the philosophy of the holy Gita on the challenge from Pandit Lal Chand. On hearing this narration of the holy Gita, Pandit Lal Chand was deeply humiliated. He was so impressed with this feat performed by the Guru that he became a Sikh and later escorted the Guru Sahib up to Kurukashatra.
Talking to The Tribune from Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh described Dr Manmohan Singh as a true and honest Sikh who had quoted hymns from Dasam Granth while seeking confidence vote on the floor of Parliament. However, Jathedar Vedanti, who had eulogised Dr Manmohan Singh earlier, today preferred to keep mum.
Meanwhile, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, Akal Takht, has said it was moral defeat of the SAD which had failed to support the government of the first Sikh Prime Minister. He said it was ridiculous the SAD leadership had stated they could not support Dr Manmohan Singh merely on the basis that he was a Sikh.
Meanwhile, there is lot of jubilation in the town, especially in the houses of Surjit Singh Kohli and Daljit Singh Kohli, brothers of the Prime Minister. They distributed ladoos to mark the victory.
On the other hand, the BJP burnt the effigies of the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi in protest against bribe given to three BJP MPs.
Congress leaders, led by Prof Darbari Lal, a former deputy speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, distributed ladoos in the morning much before the counting of votes. Manjit Singh Calcutta, a senior Akali leader and member of the SGPC expressed satisfaction over winning the confidence vote.
Following Monday’s incident in Kamla Nagar, where five Dera followers of a family were injured allegedly by activists of a Sikh organisation — the city police have sounded high alert.
After the recent clashes between the Dera followers and Sikhs in Haryana and other places, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) R K Jaiswal had already put the city police on high alert.
Speaking to Newsline, SSP Jaiswal said: “We have made adequate security arrangements in view of the bandh call tomorrow. All police personnel have been asked to remain on alert. The entire city will be under our close surveillance not only tomorrow but till the situation turns normal.”
Two additional police companies have been called to the city and deployed in different areas to prevent any untoward incident due to the simmering tension between the Dera Sacha Sauda followers and the Sikh community. According to police officers, some sensitive areas have been identified which will be under special scrutiny during the bandh.
The Sikh organisations had called for a bandh following a clash between the Dera followers and the members of Sikh community at Dabwali in Haryana last Friday. A Sikh had been killed in the incident, which had sparked widespread protests from Sikhs in Punjab and other parts of the country.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
According to sources, senior district police officers are keeping a close watch on the situation. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) (Urban) RK Jaiswal held a meeting with his officers and asked them to deploy police force in various parts of the city.
Sources said that though the entire city is under close watch, some sensitive areas have been zeroed-in on.
Speaking to Newsline, SSP Jaiswal said two companies of the police force had also been called from outside the district. He said the security has been stepped up till July 23 when Sikh organisations will observe a bandh. The SSP appealed to the people to maintain communal harmony.
Following the fresh clashes between the members of Sikh community and the Dera Sacha Sauda at Dabwali in Haryana on Friday, one person from the Sikh community had been killed. This had sparked widespread protest from Sikhs in Punjab and other parts of the country.
Some Sikh organisations have called for a bandh on July 23 to protest against the Dera head Gurmeet Ram Raheem.
Furious over the latest murder, members of the Sikh community clashed with cultists for several hours before authorities managed to control the situation in the border districts of Bathinda, Mukatsar, Faridkot, and Sirsa. Tensions also flared in the districts of SriGanganagar, and Hanumangarh on the border with Rajasthan.
On Saturday, thousands of Sikhs gathered in large numbers at Shaheed Bhai Harmandir Singh's native town of Dabwali to pay tribute to the Sikh Nation's third Shaheed in the anti-Sauda Dera agitation.
The Shaheed Singh's body, draped by siropas (robes of honor) presented by Sikh organizations, was carried on top of a large vehicle with his father Sardar Mohinder Singh, Takht Damdama Sahib Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh, and other prominent Sikh leaders, and members of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Sabha.
The Funeral fire for Bhai Harmandir Singh's body was lit by the shaheed's father and elder brother, along with Jathedar Nandgarh and Avtar Singh Makkar of the SGPC.
After the antim-saskar, Sikh leaders such as Simranjit Singh Maan, Baba Baljit Singh Daduwal, Daljit Singh Bittu, eulogized the martyr at the local Gurdwara at Dabwali.
There was a huge presence of local police, Border Security Forces, and Rapid Action Forces throughout the area, in which the entire border area between the districts of Bathinda and Mukatsar had been sealed and a curfew put in place. Only during the antim-saskar procession was the curfew lifted for about two and a half hours.
According to eyewitnesses, a local 'naam-charcha' (Sirsa cult meeting) was being organized at the residence of Sundar Dass Mehta on Friday. Volunteers of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Sabha, including Bhai Harmandir Singh, complained to the local police officials about the meeting, but officials, who themselves sympathize with the cultists, turned a blind eye to the issue.
When the Singhs, numbering only 15-20, began to protest outside Mehta's residence, they were violently confronted by the cultists whose numbers had now surged into the hundreds-heavily armed. In the initial attack, dozens of cultists ambushed Bhai Harmandir Singh with sharp weapons and latthis (staffs), several others were injured in this melee.
When other members of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Sabha found out about the situation, they quickly arrived at the scene and took possession of the Shaheed Singh's body, and in protest closed down the Delhi-Dabwali highway.
According to press reports, the deputy commissioner Oma Shankar, and senior police captain Venktarmun, soon arrived at the protest scene and attempted to disperse the protesting Singhs using the infamous 'lathi-charge' tactic in which half a dozens more Singhs were injured directly due to police brutality.
As reports of the mistreatment of the Sikhs in Haryana spread, more Sangat began to pour into the town of Dabwali, in which during the evening the Sikh protesters began to retaliate against the authorities and Sirsa cultists. It took several hours and reinforcements from neighboring districts before the Police could contain the situation.
As in the past, local government officials are suspected of sympathizing with and protecting the cult dera members, and are being partly blamed for the death of Harmandir Singh. They include deputy commissioner Oma Shankar, a sub-inspector Dalip Singh, and local patwari.
Although the court had sent summons to Gurmeet Ram Rahim to appear in the Chandigarh Court on July 17th or to send a legal representative, he failed to provide any notice of his absence from the court. The matter is being perceived as a dishonor of the law and legal system. Furthermore, the summons required the attendance of the Dera Chief’s personal manager and his youth division’s President but they also failed to appear in court. While the court adjourned without any decision, it was decided by the court that the Dera Chief should appear in the Chandigarh Court on September 4th for the case hearing.
The three officials of Dera Sacha Sauda have been accused of issuing death threats to Thakur and his family. The original letter, which was sent through registered email to Thakur, has been submitted to the court and its validity is being verified. A copy of the letter was also sent to the police after consultation of the Chandigarh District Bar. In the writ filed with the court, it was alleged that the Dera’s personal manager played a key role in issuing the death threat to Arvind Thakur.
Furthermore, Thakur asked the court to provide him with security as the Chandigarh Police failed to complete the necessary investigations on time and there could be danger to his and his family’s life. Thakur said that he is being threatened as he raised his voice against Gurmeet Ram Rahim for his wrongdoings.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Please attend and enjoy great kirtan. The Kirtan darbar is being held by Guru Nanak Komal Sangeet Academy Gravesend in partnership with local sevadars.
For further information contact the numbers below:
Shri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara Gravesend – 01474 350611
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Rail roko agitation passes off peacefully 7 trains cancelled, as many rescheduled; Delhi-Lahore bus service hit
However, the protest, triggered off by a call given by Sikh organisations, including the Damdami Taksal, Khalsa Action Committee, Dal Khalsa and All Indian Sikh Federation, remained peaceful. The affected trains included Srigagnanagar-Hardwar Intercity Express and the Sachkand Express. Railway officials had a tough time dealing with the situation as the state police failed to prevent the protesters from halting the rail traffic.
Activist of various Sikh organisations, including the Damdami Taksal, Khalsa Action Committee, Dal Khalsa and the All-India Sikh Students Federation, today stopped trains in Amritsar district. Activists of the SAD (Amritsar), led by its secretary-general Bhai Ram Singh, blocked the Amritsar- Jalandhar road for two hours, hitting the Delhi-Lahore bus service. The party has sought the cancellation of the pre-arrest bail to the Dera chief. Bhai Ram Singh has asked the state government to move the Supreme Court in this connection.
Around 200 Sikhs, led by Damdami Taksal spokesperson Mohkam Singh, former minister Manjit Singh Calcutta, Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh and SAD (Panch Pardani) Baldev Singh Sirsa staged a dharna on the rail tracks near Amritsar. At Beas, activists of the Damdami Taksal and the Dal Khalsa held a similar agitation to block the Golden Temple Express.
The protesters demanded the immediate arrest of the Dera chief. They raised slogans against the Centre, Maharashtra and Haryana governments for having a lenient view towards the Dera head.
Meanwhile, the railways authorities cancelled two goods trains and five others while rescheduling seven trains in the state.
ABOHAR: The Sriganganagar-Hardwar Intercity Express was halted for more than three hours in the morning. The protesters, some of whom came from far-off villages and neighbouring towns, earlier assembled at Gurdwara Sangat Sar on the Kandhwala road in the Nai Abadi locality here early morning. They marched in a procession to the level crossing on the Bhawani Cotton Mill road and held a sit-in on the crossing.
The railway authorities halted the Sriganganagar-New Delhi Intercity Express, which was scheduled to reach here at 6.40 am, on the Sriganganagar-Abohar section. The Udyan Abha Toofan Express was not flagged off from the local railway station till 8.30 am. Two passenger trains were delayed by 75 minutes.
HOSHIARPUR: Activists of the SAD (Amritsar), led by their district president Avtar Singh Khakh, staged a dharna and blocked vehicular traffic for more than two hours on the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road near Chagran to protest the Mumbai firing incident.
MALOUT: Protesters, led by organising secretary of the All-India Youth Akali Dal Pamma Warer, state working committee member of the Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani) Jagroop Singh Chimnewala, district vice-president of the Ek Noor Khals Fauz Manjit Singh and district vice-president of the Youth Akali Dal Jaswinder Singh Chawla stopped a Kotkapura-bound train on the Malout Chowk level crossing for more than an hour.
RAMPURA PHUL: The railway traffic came to a halt in the Malwa region as hundreds of anti-Dera protesters blocked trains. They threatened to stop Dera followers from going to the Salabatpur dera. The protesters, led by Parminder Singh of the SAD (Amritsar) and Simranjit Kaur (women wing of the SAD) squatted on railway tracks.
The Bathinda-Dhuri and Ambala-Ganga Nagar trains for stopped for several hours while the Hardwar-bound train 4712 was suspended at Dhuri and the Ambala-Bathinda train was cancelled by the Railway authorities.
Baba Hardeep Singh, convener of the Bathinda unit of the Khalsa Action Committee, said the committee would meet tonight to chalk out the future course of action. At Bathinda, rail traffic remained disrupted from 12.20 pm to 7 pm.
SANGRUR: Members of Sikh organisation stopped the Jammu Tavi-Chennai Mail Express from 8.45 am to 7.20 pm (more than 10 hours) at the local railway station. General secretary of the SAD (A) Jeet Singh Alloarkh demanded arrest of the Dera head at the earliest.
A posse of 65 commandoes and supportive police force was deployed in strength both outside and inside the Dera. The inmates of the Dera were not unduly perturbed by the recent happenings and expressed unflinching faith in Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim. A woman devotee said nothing could happen at the Dera as besides the police security, the Dera had its own security arrangements in place.
She said: “Our faith in Baba will remain unshaken and these stray incidents will not make any difference.”
Another follower Jaswant admitted that the Dera supporters were under pressure after the change in government and were being targeted for allegedly supporting the Congress in last elections. He also decried the ban on ‘naam charcha’ and said it was encroachment on freedom of religion and freedom of speech and was ‘undemocratic’.
Local businessmen were the worst hit due to perpetual tension in the area after the Dera row started. Jagtar Singh, a fruit seller, lamented that his sale had come down from Rs 3,000 to Rs 1,000 per day. The plight of other shopkeepers was no difference, he added.
Instead of taking a clear stand, the Sikh clerics chose the middle path while discussing the apology tendered by Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on May 29 last year at a meeting at Akal Takht secretariat.
Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Patna Sahib, alleged he was under pressure from Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, to take a “lenient view” regarding the Dera Sacha Sauda chief. He alleged that Jathedar, Akal Takht, was under pressure from the Akali Dal and the SGPC. Such decisions gave much space to hardliners to hijack the matter.
The Jathedar, Akal Takht, is again abroad. He has not issued any statement urging the community to maintain peace.
In an attempt to defuse the Dera Sacha Sauda issue, the Sikh clerics had adopted a midway approach by adopting a Gurmatta that neither rejected nor accepted the apology tendered by the Dera chief for hurting Sikh sentiments at Salabatpura in Bathinda district on May 13 last year. Then the venue was shifted from Akal Takht to Bathinda district by announcing that the call to boycott the Dera made from Takht Damdama Sahib on May 17 would continue. This step on the part of Sikh high priests resulted in bloody incidents because the situation had gone out of control after the Sikh conclave at Damdama Sahib.
Later, Balwant Singh Nandgarh,Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, gave a call to assassinate the Dera Sacha Sauda chief while addressing a gathering on May 19 last year with a view to defusing the situation at the cremation of Kanwaljit Singh, who was killed in firing at Sunam (Sangrur). However, the Jathedar, Nandgarh, was virtually humiliated by Jathedars of other Takhts for not supporting him when he was on dharna on the Rajasthan border in February this year. Finally, Jathedar, Nandgarh, had to lift the dharna because there was no support coming from any quarter though he had announced “Come what may, I will lead the Khalsa March in Rajasthan as announced after the Ardas (prayer)”.
Though the route of the Khalsa March, taken from Fatehgarh Sahib on May 31 last year was shortened at the behest of the SAD though Akal Takht had announced it would culminate in Chandigarh and memorandum would be submitted to Governors of Punjab and Haryana. Instead an ADC to Governor, Punjab reached Fatehgarh Sahib to collect the memorandum.
Now SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal has decided to rush to Mumbai tomorrow following the high-level meeting. The saner elements in the community say the situation should be handled in a way it does not go out of control again.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Sikh body demands arrest of Dera head
The Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) on Tuesday demanded the arrest of Dera Sacha sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, saying nothing less that this can pacify the Sikhs incensed over the gunning down of a community member allegedly by his bodyguard in Mumbai recently.
In a joint statement Issued here today Bhai Mohkam Singh, Kanwar Pal Singh and Manjit Singh Calcutta of the KAC said the arrest of Dera chief alone would pacify the Sikhs.
They also demanded that a case under section 302 should be lodged against the Dera chief for conspiring the killing of Balkar Singh.
Jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh Appeals to Sikhs
Jathedar Giani Iqbal has asked sikhs to remain peacefully protesting until the Dera Dog head isn't arrested. He has also asked every sikh to do Chaupai Sahib and Ardaas every day for the chardi kala of the sikh panth.
Sikh protesters block train services
Train services in Punjab were on Wednesday suspended following blocking of tracks at several places by Sikhs demanding arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh in the wake of the Mumbai firing incident.
The Sikh protesters squatted on the track at several places, including Amritsar, Sirhind, Malout, Abohar, Sangrur and Rajpura in Punjab to protest against the killing of a community member allegedly by a body guard of the Dera chief in Mumbai last week.
The 'rail roko' call given by Damdami Taksal, SAD (Amritsar) and certain radical Sikh organisations asked the protesters to remain peaceful.
"At least eight super-fast and five passenger trains have been cancelled for the day. Several other trains were being terminated short of their destination in order to ensure the safety of the passengers and rail property," Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala H K Jaggi told PTI.
Around 400 Sikhs led by Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh, Chief of SAD (Amritsar Presidium) Daljit Singh Bittu and President of Sikh Students Federation (Mehta faction) Paramjit Singh Khalsa were staging a sit-in on the tracks at Madhopur village near Sirhind. The rail line connects Delhi with Amritsar and Jammu.
Punjab Police sources said here that though the movement of trains had come to a halt, the situation was peaceful.
Protest Against Dera Chief - Rail roko today
The government has sounded high alert in the state following rail roko call, given by the Damdami Taksal, the SAD (Amritsar) and certain radical Sikh organisations tomorrow in protest against the killing of a youth by a bodyguard of Dera Sacha Sauda chief in Mumbai. Leaders of various Sikh outfits have gone underground, fearing crackdown by the police.
However, radical Sikh organisations, including the Khalra Mission Committee, have urged Sikhs to maintain peace during the bandh.
Dal Khalsa general secretary Kanwarpal Singh said the Sikhs should not annoy common man by damaging the public property during dharnas against Dera Sacha Sauda chief.
SAD(A) general secretary Ram Singh said his party would also resort to rail roko at its own level.
On the other hand, the Khalsa Action Committee announced that only arrest of the Dera head would pacify the Sikhs. Taking a jibe at the SGPC president's call for a judicial probe into the murder of Balkar Singh at the hands of the guards of the Dera chief in Mumbai, the committee said nothing less than the arrest of the Dera chief would pacify the Sikhs.
In a joint statement, Bhai Mohkam Singh, Kanwar Pal Singh and Manjit Singh Calcutta said such unreasonable statements of a person holding high post would further confound the issue and delay justice. There was no need to muddle the issue at this crucial stage, they advised Jathedar Avtar Singh. They demanded a case under Section 302, IPC, be lodged against the Dera chief for conspiring in the killing of Balkar Singh.
On the provocative statement of Shiv Sena head Bal Thackeray that if Marathas rose there will be a big disaster for Sikhs, the office-bearers of the KAC said without understanding the genesis of the problem and without realising the concern of the Sikhs, Thackeray had gone overboard. "Thackeray and others should take the pain and agony of the Sikhs into account before dubbing them 'trouble-makers'. However, they clarified Sikhs were committed to peace and harmony wherever they reside.
Meanwhile, the Sikh Nation Organisation also flayed the statement of the SGPC president in demanding a judicial probe into the killing which they described as meaningless “delaying tactic”. President of the organisation Manjit Singh Randhawa called for complete revamping of the SGPC.
Politicians appeal for peace as Sikhs demand justice
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has appealed the people to maintain calm in the wake of protests by Sikhs over the alleged killing of a community member by security guards of the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
"We appeal to all the people to maintain peace and brotherhood. No disruption of peace will be there," Badal said.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda also promised strict action against anybody who takes the law into their hands.
"The Government of Haryana is fully prepared to maintain law and order in the state. Nobody is above law and law will take its course," Hooda said.
Meanwhile, Sant Harnam Singh Dhuma, the chief of the Damdami Taksal, a Sikh organisation, has condemned the state administration for its leniency against the Dera chief who he believes has brought disrepute to the Sikh community.
"The government should take strict legal action against these people who don't have any regard for other religions. They should be punished, but the police is taking action against those who are protesting against it. This is partial treatment to a particular sect. The government should arrest him," claimed Dhuma.
Meanwhile, the president of the Mumbai unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal has urged the Maharashtra Government to punish the guilty.
"We demand that all guilty should be prosecuted immediately. Secondly, we request the Chief Minister and the Governor to accept the reaction of Sikhs to the killing as a sentimental outburst. The Government of Maharashtra has registered some cases against the protestors and we have requested it to treat them sympathetically," said Sukhbir.
Ties between the Dera Sacha Sauda sect and Sikhs have been strained for nearly a year now after Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh allegedly imitated the last Sikh guru-- Guru Gobind Singh.
The enraged Sikh community forced Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to tender an apology, which was rejected by the Sikh clerics.
Akali Dal demands probe into Sikh's killing
Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday sought a judicial probe into the firing by the private security guards of controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh.
A delegation led by Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal met Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh at Mantralaya and demanded a judicial probe into the incident.
"Deshmukh has assured us of a speedy probe. We have sought a judicial inquiry to enable prompt action against the guilty", Badal told reporters after the meeting.
"When the so-called Baba had 'Z' plus security, what were private security guards doing with him", Badal asked? The decision to send the delegation was taken at a meeting of senior Akali Dal leaders yesterday in Chandigarh, presided by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
The delegation included Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and senior Akali Dal leaders, who also met family members of Balkar Singh, who was killed in the firing allegedly by security guards of the sect chief at a shopping mall in Mulund area of Mumbai.
Asked about the violent protests by sword-wielding Sikhs after the firing, Badal said it was a "spontaneous and emotional outburst" and no one had orchestrated the protests.
"We have asked the state government to take a sympathetic view of the emotional protests and withdraw cases against arrested agitators," Badal said.
Sikhs hold protest at Fatehabad
Sikhs held a peaceful protest demonstration at Fatehabad demanding action against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh following the killing of a community member at Mumbai allegedly by his security guard even as situation at Sirsa remained peaceful today with Haryana police intensifying its security arrangements. The Gurdwara Singh Sabha of Fatehabad in Haryana organised a peaceful protest demonstration today. The protestors submitted a memorandum to the local Deputy Commissioner demanding action against the Dera chief, who has been at loggerheads with the community since last year in May when he appeared dressed in attire similar to that of 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. The protesting Sikhs at Fatehabad did not resort to any road blockade, a report from the district headquarter said. Commissioner and Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Hissar P C Bidhan and A K Dhull jointly addressed a meeting of heads of BSF and RAF companies deployed at Sirsa - the headquarters of the dera in the wake of the mumbai incident. Both appealed to the Sikhs and the Dera followers to maintain peace and communal amity in the district. They said that all the 36 sensitive villages and spots have been identified and 18 check-posts and barricades have been set up to check the activities of anti-social elements. Dhull said that the entire district has been divided in 11 zones and 2 duty magistrates have been deputed to coordinate with the police and the other district officials as and when needed. They also appealed that the local peace committee to reactivate itself and extend a helping hand in the maintenance of peace and communal harmony. The peace committee was constituted immediately after the Dera-Sikh strife that started over the dress donned by the Dera chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, which allegedly resembled to the one adorned by the 10th Sikh Guru in the month of May last year. The IGP asked the SHOs of the district to form peace committees in the respective areas under their jurisdiction to ensure peace. Both the Dera followers and the prominent Sikh leaders have assured their full cooperation for maintaining peace, Dhull added. Both of them also warned that peace and communal harmony would be maintained in the district at all costs and none would be allowed to disturb peace and amity.
Four more staff members of Dera chief arrested
Four staff members of Dera Saccha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh held in connection with the gunning down of a Sikh outside a suburban mall were taken to the spot of the crime in order to reconstruct the sequence of events which led to the shooting, police said on Tuesday.
Statements of 30 persons, including the 14 accused and six officials from the city police's Special Branch (SB) who were escorting the Dera chief, have been recorded so far, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria said here.
He said SB officials escorting Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh were only aware of his visit in Andheri but not about the visit to a mall in Mulund where the incident had occurred.
Asked the SB officials did not stop at the spot after the firing, Maria said it was the SB officials who informed Police Control Room about the incident but they proceeded with the cavalcade as they had to look after the safety of a high risk individual like Rahim Singh who enjoys Z category security cover.
Based on the statements, police can ascertain if the firing was unprovoked or in self defence.
Balkar Singh Thakur Singh was killed after a security guard in the Dera chief's motorcade shot at him outside a mall in suburban Mulund on Friday evening. Some of the Dera chief's staff also took out sticks and started hitting people and damaged the deceased's vehicle.
The incident led to violent protesting by Sikhs in Mulund locality till Saturday. 14 staff members of the Dera chief were arrested in connection with the murder and rioting incident on Friday while 27 Sikhs were held for the violent protests the next day.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Dera Saccha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was forced to leave Karnataka in a huff owing to protests by the local Sikhs, a spokesman of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha today claimed. Talking to the TNS, Harminder Singh, spokesman of the Singh Sabha said the protest demonstration by the Sikhs in Bangalore yesterday against the dera chief’s presence in the state and their subsequent meeting with the Governor Rameshwar Thakur seeking the controversial sect heads “expulsion” from Karnataka had prompted the state government to ask Gurmeet Singh to leave the state. Harminder Singh claimed they also got in touch with lok sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and urged him to use his influence to rid the state of the dera chief. “We are very happy that our efforts bore fruit and the Saccha Sauda chief was forced to leave the state”, he said. Gurmeet Singh, who had come to his “ashram” at Mysore on Saturday night from Bangalore, left Mysore at the early hours of Monday. “He left the city at the dead of night and went to Bangalore from where he flew to Delhi”, V S D’souza, deputy commissioner of police (law and order), Mysore, said. “We did not tell him anything”, D’souza replied when asked whether the Mysore police had asked the Dera chief to leave. No protest demonstration was held in Mysore during the dera chief’s presence in the city, D’souza said. He, however, added that Gurmeet Singh was provided with heavy security cover during his stay in Mysore. Police also provided foolproof security to dera chief’s cavalcade when he drove to Bangalore from Mysore to catch the flight to Delhi, the DCP said.
Sikhs block Nangal Dam Express
To lodge their protest over killing of an ‘innocent’ Sikh in Mumbai by Dera Sacha Saucha chief bodyguard, the Sikhs blocked the train in Fatehgarh Sahib. Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar(presidium) senior member Harpal Singh Cheema, SGPC members Karnail Singh Panjoli, Ravinder Singh Khalsa, Surinder Kaur along with other protesters staged dharna on the railway track in Fatehgarh Sahib and blocked the train. They raised slogans against the Dera head and sought his immediate arrest. \ While addressing the gathering Harpal Singh Cheema said that if the Dera chief was not arrested his party would participate in ‘Rail Roko’ programme announcement of Damdami Taksal on June 25. Karnail Singh Panjoli said that next course of action would be announced on June 25 evening as per the feeling of Sikh community. The blockade was lifted when Executive Magistrate assured the protesters to convey their feeling to higher authorities.
SAD team to call on Deshmukh
A high-level delegation, led by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, will leave for Mumbai tomorrow to meet the family of Balkar Singh, who was killed by the bodyguard of Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the SAD core committee, presided over by SAD patron and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Chief Minster’s media adviser Harcharan Bains said the delegation would also call on Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilas Rao Deshmukh to urge him to take strict action against the culprits.
It would also impress upon Deshmukh to take steps to safeguard the life and property of the minority Sikh community there.
Meanwhile, the SAD has appealed to Sikhs to maintain peace and communal harmony as preached by the Gurus.
The delegation would also meet the injured of the firing incident. It comprises Charanjit Singh Atwal, Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Prem Singh Chandumajra, Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Manjit Singh (Greater Kailash), Avtar Singh Hit, Onkar Singh Thapar and Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema.
SGPC executive meeting put off
The SGPC has indefinitely postponed its proposed meeting, scheduled for June 24 at Anandpur Sahib, in connection with the Mumbai incident in which a Sikh youth was killed.
Sikhs take out protest rally in Kolkata
Hundreds of Sikhs on Monday took out a protest march and later staged a sit-in here against the killing of a community member allegedly by the bodyguard of Dera Sacha Sauda chief in Mumbai last week.
About 500 Sikhs, under the banner of Central Gurudwara Committee, carried posters denouncing the Dera Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and shouted slogans.
Later they submitted a memorandum to the West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
Dera Sacha Sauda, believed to be an offshoot of the Radhasoami sect, has been at loggerheads with the Sikh clergy ever since its leader appeared in public wearing the attire of 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.
Ram Rahim Singh has also been in the thick of controversy for alleged sexual harassment of 'sadhvis' (women disciples) at the sect's headquarters in Sirsa and for involvement in the murder of a Dera manager and a journalist. He is facing trial in the three cases.
Police ban swords from Sikh funeral after clashes
Police on Monday ensured that none of the Sikh community members were allowed to carry swords at the funeral of Balkar Singh, the Sikh who was gunned down by the bodyguards of a controversial religious sect leader, Baba Ram Rahim Singh.
More than 10,000 Sikhs joined the funeral procession in suburban Mulund which faced violent protests on Friday and Saturday.
Balkar was among a group of Sikhs protesting the visit of the Dera Sacha Sauda organisation's leader outside a local shopping mall on Friday evening. As Baba was leaving, Balkar's car moved forward which caused Baba's bodyguards to fire on him and others. While two protestors died, Balkar died on the spot.
No clean chit to Dera chief in firing case yet: Police
Police today said there is no immediate possibility of giving Dera Saccha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh a clean chit in the murder of a 40-year-old Sikh man who was gunned down by the spiritual guru's private security guard last week."Our investigations are still on and therefore, there is no immediate likelihood of giving Ram Rahim Singh a clean chit," Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria told reporters here.Balkar Singh Thakur Singh was killed after a security guard in the Dera chief's motorcade allegedly shot at him outside a mall in suburban Mulund on Friday evening. The incident led to violent protesting by the Sikhs in the Mulund locality till Saturday.Maria said that the police is right now reconstructing the exact sequence of events and statements of six persons have been recorded for the purpose.A cyclist who was injured after being hit by one of the vehicles during the melee and the government security guards who were accompanying Ram Rahim Singh that evening are among those whose statements have been recorded, he said.Meanwhile, Balkar Singh's funeral took place peacefully in suburban Mulund this afternoon, police said.Balkar Singh and his friend Thakur got into a tiff with the spiritual guru's staff while the latter was shopping inside the mall as they were not allowed entry into a shop.Later, when Ram Rahim Singh left the mall in a motorcade, the duo's car happened to come near it after which some of the escort staff got down from their jeeps armed with sticks. They allegedly broke the windshield of Thakur's car and the firing occurred during the melee.
Cops grill Dera chief's aides
The police are questioning 14 associates of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, including bodyguard Jagdev Singh, who is accused of shooting and killing Balkar Singh in Mulund on Friday. Officials said the Dera chief's visit to the mall was not scheduled and they were to proceed to Khalapur. The convoy was rolling along the Eastern Express Highway when somebody suggested that they visited the mall, one of the biggest in the city. Jagdev, accused of firing three rounds at the anti-Dera protesters, told interrogators that some Sikhs from Mulund Colony gheraoed the mall and pelted stones. "It was then that Ram Rahim decided to move out. Seeing the trouble, Balkar Singh took a reverse turn in his car and started driving on LBS Marg. His car reached the other gate where the Dera chief's convey was leaving the mall. The sevaks, including Jagdev, thought that Balkar was likely to bump his car into the convey and hence he fired." said an officer. The crime branch is making inquiries into what six policemen of the protection branch were doing when the trouble started. Sources said the police were recording the statements of the policemen who were escorting Ram Rahim on Friday morning. JCP (crime) Rakesh Maria said, "We are reconstructing the sequence of events and recording the statements of independent witnesses, including some shopkeepers, as to how the trouble began." The police seized two guns from the sevaks and sent them for ballistic tests. Asked if the Dera chief will be questioned, Maria said, "If something comes out, we will question him too."
Fearing protests, Dera chief chooses air over land to be home
Facing angry demonstrations by Sikh organizations all over the country, Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim reached the town in a chartered helicopter on Monday instead of coming in a cavalcade of vehicles like he usually does. According to sources, his helicopter landed in the Shah Satnam Singh Cricket Academy stadium located in the Dera headquarters at about 1 pm. The latest spate of protests against him started after his bodyguard shot dead a Sikh protester at a mall in Mumbai. Faced with possible trouble in Mumbai, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had rushed to Mysore in Karnataka late on Saturday evening and stayed there overnight. He was provided with a heavy security cover there following disturbances in Mumbai and other places. As unrest started to grow over his stay in Karnataka, authorities shifted him to a secret location in the state. The Dera chief has set up a camp on the outskirts of Mysore where a building of the Dera will be constructed. Sources said 2.5 acres of land have been purchased near Siddalingapura for this purpose. Sources added the Dera chief later reached Bangalore from Mysore by a chartered helicopter and reached Delhi by air on Monday morning. The helicopter in which he reached Sirsa was hired from Delhi. Sources in the Dera said it was for the first time that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had come to Sirsa by a helicopter. Earlier, when he travelled by road in his cavalcade, the Dera chief used the stopovers to address congregations at 'naam charcha bhawans' constructed in almost all towns of the state. Sources said his confidants had feared angry demonstrations by Sikhs if he had come by road. DC V Umashankar confirmed authorities had also suggested that the Dera chief should use a helicopter as a journey by road could have attracted trouble.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Mulund victim to be cremated today
After violent protests by Sikhs in Mumbai over the past two days, the city saw an uneasy calm on Sunday. A team of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee was there to appeal for peace. ''We have appealed to the Sikh community to maintain calm. But it is the right of every individual to protest,''says Avatar Singh Makkar, SGPC Chief.Over 5,000 people are expected to attend the funeral procession of Balkar Singh, the man who was killed in firing by Baba Ram Rahim's guard who will be cremated on Monday.The police is taking no chances. Over 500 police personnel will be deployed across the city to ensure that the procession is peaceful.''We have asked them not to use swords and kirpans during the procession,'' says Prakash Landkhe, senior police inspector, Mulund police station.
Sikhs burn effigy of Dera chief
Sikhs blocked roads in a West Delhi locality on Sunday to protest against the gunning down of their community member outside a mall in Mumbai allegedly by a bodyguard of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Ram Rahim Singh.
Around 50 Sikhs blocked roads in Subhash Nagar area of Najafgarh for about an hour and burnt an effigy of the Dera chief in protest against the incident which occurred on Friday.
Police detained about 30 people who were part of the protest.
The Dera Chief was at the centre of a controversy last year after Sikhs objected to depiction of Baba Ram Rahim in the attire of Guru Gobind Singh.
Sikh leader talks of CD as proof against Baba’s guards
Avtar Singh Makkar, president of Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) — the supreme Sikh religious body — said that an amateur video recording by someone at the spot showed Baba’s bodyguards as abusive and aggressive.
“I saw the footage today and was appalled to see how the private bodyguards were chasing the public, all non-Sikhs, at the mall. They are seen hurling abuses and other expletives at the public while brandishing lathis all the time,” he said.
“I have instructed my associates to make a CD of the video recording and submit it to the investigating agencies as evidence against culprits hired by the Baba. The state and Centre should immediately stop the Baba from employing private security guards,” he said.
Makkar visited Balkar Singh Bhatti’s family in the evening and gave his widow a cheque of Rs5 lakh on behalf of the SGPC. The three injured were give Rs1 lakh each.
Dera chief taken to undisclosed place as Sikh protests spread
Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was whisked away to an undisclosed destination by the police under heavy security cover on Sunday.
Ram Rahim Singh arrived here late on Saturday evening and stayed overnight. A heavy security cloak was thrown around him following disturbances in Mumbai and other places during the last few days.
Balkar Singh (40), was killed when the Dera chief’s security guards allegedly opened fire on Sikh demonstrators near a mall in the Mumbai suburb of Mulund on Friday. Following the death, Sikhs went on the rampage in Mumbai.
In view of the growing tension, authorities shifted Ram Rahim Singh in a convoy and put him up in a place they kept secret. The security was so tight that photographers were prevented from going close to the convoy and a huge pandal was erected to prevent onlookers from getting a glimpse of the vehicle in which he was seated.
Ram Rahim Singh has established a camp on the outskirts of Mysore where it is speculated that a religious structure is likely to be constructed. The 2.5 acres of land has been purchased near Siddalingapura. Appeal for calm
As protests by Sikh groups spread to Bangalore, Mysore and Jammu, besides several towns of Punjab and Haryana, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar appealed to them to “maintain calm and not to allow themselves to be provoked.” He said the protests should be within the “parametres of the law” and announced Rs. 5 lakh to dependents of Balkar Singh.
Sikhs blocked traffic on the Jammu-Pathankote National Highway and staged protests in Sirsa, Moga and Sangrur.
Damdami Taksal and Sant Samaj demanded that the Dera chief be arrested by Tuesday.
They asked the Centre to withdraw the Z plus security cover provided to him.
11 held in connection with gunning down of Sikh
Eleven persons associated with the Dera Saccha Sauda were arrested on Sunday in connection with the gunning down of a Sikh allegedly by a bodyguard of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh outside a mall in Mulund.
Besides this, a total of 27 persons had been arrested on charges of rioting for indulging in protests against the killing, police said.
The 11 arrested in connection with the murder case have been remanded to police custody till July 2. Those held for rioting have been remanded to the police custody till June 26.
Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, facing a threat to life, was staying at his sect’s newly built ashram at Siddhalingapura on the outskirts of Mysore under tight security, a top police official said yesterday.“The Dera chief has been provided Z-plus security under a directive from the federal home ministry. In addition to his own bodyguards inside, we have posted a platoon of policemen around the sect’s ashram christened Prathana Mandir (prayer temple),” Mysore police superintendent P Ravindranath said.To prevent protests or violence, people were not allowed to enter the ashram. Some devotees were, however, let in after screening and clearance from the ashram in-charge.“Unlike in Bangalore, there was no protest or demonstration by local Sikhs against the Dera chief at the ashram. There is no problem. The situation is peaceful,” Ravindranath said.The prayer temple is built on a 2.5acre land on the Mysore-Bangalore state highway and located opposite the popular Subramanya temple, where hundreds of devotees throng daily.The ashram is well-enclosed by an 8ft wall with one entrance. The huge prayer hall in the centre is a tall structure and visible from the highway.The Karnataka police escorted the Dera chief and an accompanying group of 50 followers to Mysore late Saturday from Bangalore by road after he landed at the new international airport from Pune, fearing threat to his life from a section of Sikh groups opposed to his sect.The sect’s head was advised by the Bangalore police not to leave for New Delhi as they feared a threat to his life on the basis of intelligence reports. For his safety, the state police had decided to bring him to Mysore.The head of the Haryana-based sect, who earned the wrath of the Sikh clergy, got into a fresh row after a youth was killed and two others were injured on Friday when his bodyguard opened fire on Sikh protesters at a shopping mall in Mumbai.
Minority Panel for judicial inquiry in Dera firing incident
Forty-five-year-old Balkhar Singh was allegedly shot dead by Dera Sachcha Sauda Chief, Baba Ram Rahim Singh's bodyguard in Mumbai's Mulund area.
The Dera Chief's bodyguard allegedly opened fire when Sikhs started chanting anti-Dera slogans in a mall that Baba Ram Rahim Singh was visiting.
Balkhar Singh's wife, Darshan Kaur is yet to come to terms with her loss. Wringing her hands in despair, she asks of nobody in particular: "What will I do now? He's gone!"
The Dera Chief has been at loggerheads with the Sikh clergy for a long time now. The trouble started last year after he appeared in a newspaper advertisement dressed as the tenth Sikh Guru - Guru Gobind Singh - and was shown distributing amrit (holy water) to people.
Following Balkhar Singh's death, angry protesters from the Sikh Community took to the streets late on Friday evening. They blocked major roads including the Eastern Express Highway and even stopped trains in Mulund on Saturday.
The police retaliated with lathicharge and even had to resort to tear gassing the mob, when people refused to disperse.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) made an appeal to the community on Sunday to refrain from violence and SGPC Chief, Avtaar Singh Makkar appealed to the community to be calm and maintain peace.
It was only when Maharashtra state Home Minister, R R Patil assured the community that strict action would be taken against the accused that the protest was called off till Monday.
The State Minorities Commission has recommended judicial inquiry into the firing incident. The coming week will determine the state government's role in diffusing this standoff.
Meanwhile, the core committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal is meeting in Chandigarh on Monday. There is also going to be a Khalsa Action committee meeting on Monday afternoon.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Khalsa Action Committee members to meet in Jalandhar on 23 June: Information given by Ludhiana based office of Khalsa Action Committee has revealed that the Members of KAC shall meet on 23 June, 2008 at Gurudwara Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar, Jalandhar to decide the future course of Struggle against anti-Sikh sauda cult. It is expected that KAC shall extend it's support to Sant Samaj's rail roko call, as various member organizations of KAC, such as SADA (Panch Pardhani) and SSF has already extended its' support to said program. More strict plan of Action is expected to be announced after meeting.
SAD(A) announces statewide agitation in case of inaction: Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) members on Saturday threatened to block traffic across Punjab if the Centre did not take steps to arrest Dera Sauda Sirsa (DSS) chief Gurmit Ram Rahim. Senior party leader Harpal Singh Cheema said this was decided after a meeting of the members.
Sirsa Sikhs Blocked Highway over Mumbai Incident: HUNDREDS OF Sikhs of the district blocked the national highway No.10 at Sahuwala village, about 17 km from here, this morning in protest against the killing of a Sikh in firing by a bodyguard of the Dera Sauda Sirsa (DSS) head in Mumbai last night. The protesters, who were led by Baba Gurmeet Singh Tilokewala and Sher Singh Mallewala, demanded the arrest of dera chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh and the withdrawal of Z-plus security given to him. .
Sikhs Blocked Traffic at Ambala - Demanded Arrest of Dera Head: Sikhs today staged massive protests against Dera Sauda Sirsa (DSS) chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in the twin towns of Ambala. They demanded withdrawal of Z plus security given to the Dera chief. They said they would stage a protest against Dera head on July 5 when he would be here for court attendance in CBI cases against him.
Arrest or ‘rail roko': Taksal Representatives of Gurmat Sidhant Parchar Sant Samaj today gave an ultimatum to the government to ensure the arrest of the Dera Sauda Sirsa (DSS) head by June 24. Baba Harnam Singh of Damdami Taksal told mediapersons that the government must arrest the Dera head by Tuesday or a statewide "rail roko" agitation would be launched. Rail traffic would be stopped on the Amritsar-Delhi section at Madhopur, near Sirhind, on Wednesday he said, and it would also be disrupted in other parts of the state.
Protest at Jalandhar: Meanwhile various Sikh organizations held protest rallies and burnt the effigy of Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim in Jalandhar.
Road blocked in Hoshiarpur : Agitated over the Mumbai incident in which a Sikh was killed by Dera Sauda Sirsa (DSS) chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim's bodyguard, members of radical Sikh organisations held a demonstration and blocked traffic for over an hour at Parbhat Chowk in Hoshiarpur on Saturday. Demanding the arrest of the Dera chief and his bodyguard, the protesters, led by Dal Khalsa leader Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, took out a march in the city.
Protests in Bathinda: Roads Blocked Sikhs reacted to the killing of a member of the community in Mumbai with protests in Bathinda at the bus stand and neighboring districts in Punjab and Haryana on Saturday. The police took out a flag march in the city. The Khalsa Action Committee blocked both rail and road traffic at the Rampura Phul crossing on the Bathinda-Chandigarh road.
Police said the three men were arrested shortly after they fired at the Sikh protesters who opposed the presence of the Baba at Mumbai's Nirmal Lifestyle mall.
One Sikh, Balkar Singh, died after receiving bullet injuries, the police said. The incident inflamed passions with thousands of Sikhs hitting the roads. Schools and colleges run by the Sikh community remained shut today to protest the incident.
Protests were reported from the region also.
The community, which has a strong presence in Mulund, Thane and nearby areas, descended on the Mulund railway station and blocked trains. They were demanding the arrest of the Baba as a pre-condition for cremating the remains of the dead youth.
According to the police, at least 1,000 Sikhs descended on the Mulund railway station at 11.30 am and blocked the traffic. Several food stalls and shops in the vicinity of the railway station were stoned by the protesters.
A statement made by the Central Railway said several local trains going towards Kalyan, Thane, Ambernath, Kasara and Karjat were cancelled.
Outstation trains to Pune and other places were also delayed for more than two hours. However, after the intervention of the Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil and senior police officials, the protesters allowed the train services to resume. According to the Central Railway, train services were fully restored by evening.
Patil said the Maharashtra government would give a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the family of the dead and Rs 25,000 each for those injured in the incident. The Deputy CM, who also handles the home ministry, ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
Police said, the family of Balkar Singh had taken his body for cremation.
Meanwhile, peaceful protests are continuing. “We have decided to hold peaceful protests without resorting to violence,” local Congress party MLA Charan Singh Chapra said. Chapra, who had been in the forefront of the agitation, said the Sikhs were hurt that the Baba was allowed to leave Mumbai without being booked for the incident. However, police say they are still not sure if he personally ordered his guards to fire on the protesters.
According to Chapra, the community would take a decision on Monday on whether to continue the agitation.
Meanwhile, other factions of the Sikh community, owing allegiance to other leaders, continued to hold protests in other parts of Mumbai. On the Eastern Express Highway at the Airoli junction in Navi Mumbai, Sikh protesters attempted to block the traffic.
However, the administration deployed the State Reserve Police Force and city police in riot gear. Late in the afternoon, the police fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters.
According to the local police, a number of miscreants had joined the protests and were resorting to hit-and-run attacks, taking advantage of the thick mangrove cover in the area.
Meanwhile, shortly after the yesterday’s incident, the Baba left Mumbai by road for Pune from where he was to take a flight back home. As the news of Baba’s departure spread, members of the Sikh community tried to block the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. However, police did not allow the flow of traffic to be disturbed and 33 sword-bearing youths were arrested.
Meanwhile, the police said security had been tightened at Ratnagiri, where the Dera owns an ashram, to prevent any untoward incident in the town.
According to the police, security had also been beefed up at Nanded.
Jammu: Various Sikh organisations today held a demonstration in Jammu to protest against the killing of a Sikh in Mumbai.
Agitating Sikhs demanded that the Dera chief be immediately arrested for hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community throughout the world.
Angry protesters also burnt an effigy of Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Raising anti-Dera Sacha Sauda slogans, they also burnt tyres on the road.
Sikhs protesters alleged that the killing had taken place to belittle the Sikh community.
The SGPC president has sought time from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the incident. He said the team would seek immediate arrest of Dera chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh apart from imposing a ban on the activities of the Dera. The SGPC would give Rs 5 lakh to the family of Balkar Singh who was killed in the firing and bear expenses on the treatment of the injured.
The SGPC president lashed out at the Congress and the Centre for not containing the anti-Sikh activities of the Dera.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while describing the Mumbai incident “unfortunate”, urged the Sikh community to exercise restraint and help the state in maintaining peace and harmony. He, however, said nobody would be allowed to take law into his hand.
Activists of various Sikh organisations, including the Khalsa Action Committee, Akal Purkh Ki Fauj, Sikh Students Federation (Mehta), staged a protest against the killing of Balkar Singh by a bodyguard of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
The children of the slain militants, led by Sandeep Kaur, also held a protest near the Hall Gate. A few skirmishes were reported in certain areas, but the situation remained under control. Earlier, the agitators blocked traffic on the Bandari bridge for half an hour.
HOSHIARPUR: Hundreds of activists of various Sikh organisations, led by former president of the Dal Khalsa Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, district president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Peer Mohamad) Kirpal Singh Ahluwalia, senior vice-president of the SAD (Amritsar) Lakhwinder Singh, staged a dharna and blocked traffic at the Prabhat chowk here for more than an hour.
The leaders demanded immediate arrest of the culprits responsible for the killing of a Sikh in Mumbai, registration of cases of rape and murder against Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and his immediate arrest.
They submitted a memorandum to SDM Karnail Singh.
PHAGWARA: Activists of the SAD (Amritsar Panj Pardhani), led by its leaders Kulbir Singh Barapind and Manjit Singh Khalsa, stopped the Amritsar-bound Paschim Express at the local railway station for at least 10 minutes. Later, they submitted a memorandum to the SDM demanding the immediate arrest of the Dera chief.
SANGRUR: Sikh organisations and saints staged a dharna and blocked traffic at the traffic lights chowk, near main bus stand here. Prominent Sikh saints and leaders, including Baba Sukhchain Singh Dharampura, Baba Buta Singh Gurthli Wale, SGPC member Nirmal Singh Gharachon, president of the Panthic Vichar Manch Parshotam Singh Phaguwala and joint secretary of the SAD (Panch Pardhani) Babu Singh Kahangarh, participated in the agitation. The protesters demanded the arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief. They submitted a memorandum to naib tehsildar Nirmal Singh at the dharna site.
Echoing the demand of Sikh community of Mumbai, the Sant Samaj, a conglomerate of several Sikh organisations, here issued a three-day ultimatum to the Centre and Maharashtra government to arrest Dera Sacha Sauda chief Grumeet Ram Rahim Singh.
President of the Sant Samaj Harnam Singh Khalsa, also chief of the Damdami Taksal, said if the Centre and Maharashtra government failed to arrest the Dera chief within three days, a rail roko would be observed on Wednesday between Amritsar and Delhi from 8 am to 7 pm.
Khalsa said the Dera chief should be arrested for murders of Balkar Singh in Mumbai yesterday and Karamjit Singh in Sunam last year. He appealed to the Sikh community of Mumbai to maintain peace.
Sikhs, led by leaders of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and heads of Sikh Deras, held a five-hour long protest by blocking traffic on vital NH-10, commonly known as Fazilka-Delhi highway.
Protests against the killing of an elderly Sikh by the bodyguard of Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, chief of Dera Sacha Sauda in Mumbai yesterday, began at seven in the morning near Gurudwara Guru Teg Bahadur in Sahuwala village falling under police station Badagudda. It was lifted only after the deputy commissioner V Umashankar and SP Venkat Ramana visited the place.
Keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter, the Haryana government beefed up the security in and around the town. Security around the Dera, located nearly 12 km from the city on Begu road, was also consolidated.
The deputy commissioner said two additional companies of the state police had arrived for consolidating security of the Dera and other sensitive parts of the city. He said paramilitary forces could also be requisitioned if needed.
The dormant peace committee, comprising nearly 50 individuals from various walks of life, which was constituted at the height of Sikh-Dera face-off last year, was immediately called today.
The Sikh leaders handed over a memorandum minutes before concluding their protest. It demanded registration of a murder case against the Dera chief in Mumbai and adequate compensation to the family of the deceased and injured.
Although SDM H.C Bhatia reached the place of protest and was joined by ASP Sajjan Singh, the protesters refused to lift the protest. Hence, the traffic had to be diverted on NH-10 in order to avoid jam and inconvenience to the commuters.
Baba Baljit Singh Daduwala and Sant Gurmit Tilokewala, both head of Sikh Deras, participated in the protest with their followers. Among others were Hardam Singh, member, SGPC from Sirsa and Parkash Singh Sahuwala, president, local Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
Jagdish Singh Jhinda, president, Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, while talking on the phone said, "The Centre should intervene to avoid the situation spilling out of hands.” In order to chalk out future strategy, we would hold district-level meetings on June 23, he added.
Meanwhile, Sukhwinder Singh Khalsa, state president, Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Committee, said they would hold a protest march from the historic Gurdwara Patchahi Daswi, located in the city, to the residence of the deputy commissioner and would also hand over a memorandum to him.
‘Anti-social elements attacked Dera chief’
Defending firing by a security guard of Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, its spokesperson Aditya Insan said some “anti-social elements'' had attacked the cavalcade of the spiritual head in Mumbai yesterday. Talking to the media persons in the Dera premises here today, he said the attack was in self-defence and added that about 15 Dera followers were also injured in the attack.
He said many times "terrorists" had attacked the cavalcade of the Dera chief but the police failed to take actions against the culprits.