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.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Protest Called off by Sikhs temporarily in Mumbai: Mumbai Sikhs have called off the protest after assurance by the Government that action shall be taken against accused for killing Balkar Singh. ‘This withdrawal is temporary and if the Sikhs are not satisfied by the steps taken by the Government to fullfil its’ promise then protests shall start from Monday’ said Sikh representatives while announcing the call off.
Ludhiana (June 21, 2008)
Protest held at Ludhiana: Sikhs hold strong protests in the Industrial city of Ludhiana in wake of yesterday’s Mumbai Killing. They raised demand of arrest of dera sauda head.
Chowk Mehta (June 21, 2008)
Ultimatum by Damdami Taksal: Baba Harnam Singh, head of Damdami Taksal today issued an ultimatum till 24th June, 2008 to the Government to arrest dera sauda head. He said warned that if the demand is not met with the the prescribed time limit a public protest shall be launched and railway traffic shall be blocked. Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar (Panch Pardhani) and Sikh Students Federation has supported this announcement.
Amritsar (June 21, 2008)
SGPC announces Rs. 5 lakh for Sikh killed in Mumbai: Shriomani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Saturday announced Rs. 5 lakh for the family of the Sikh who was killed in firing by security guards by Dera Sachcha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in Mumbai.
Protest in Patiala, Case Registered: Sikhs in Patiala Held a protest demanding arrest of dera suada head. The venue of protest was Anardana Chowk, in the heart of the city. Letter protesters marched towards City police station. According to recent report from sources, a case has been registered against Sikhs for breaking glass of a shop in the main market.
Pune (June 21, 2008)
Pune Expressway Blocked: Some Sikh Youth blocked the Expressway at Pune to prevent arrival of dera head to the city. They were all arrested by police and latter released on bail.
Bombay (June 21, 2008)
Trains and Traffic Blocked, Schools reamined Closed: Sikhs, here in Bombay stopted traffic on roads and railway tracks at various palces in Metro City of Bombay. Sikhs are demanding arrest of Dera sauda head gurmeet ram raheem in connection with yesterday's killing incident.
Bombay (June 20, 2008)
One Sikh shot dead by Dera Head's Bodyguards: Balkar Singh (50) is shot dead by dera sauda head's bodyguards while Sikhs were protesting the arrival of dera cheif in Mumbai.
Man killed in firing by Dera chief’s bodyguard
A 50-year-old Sikh was today killed in firing by the bodyguard of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh, who earned the wrath of Sikh clergy, outside a suburban mall during a protest against the spiritual guru by a Sikh group, which turned violent, the police said.
A group of Sikhs shouted anti-Dera slogans inside the Nirmal Lifestyles mall in suburban Mulund during a visit by Dera chief to the place this evening, a senior police officer said.
The protest by Sikhs led to altercations between Dera chief ‘s supporters and the Sikh group, which turned violent after the group allegedly started pelting stones, he said.
The Dera chief left the mall immediately at around 6.45 pm for a programme scheduled later in the evening.
“While the motorcade was passing for the programme, some Sikh protesters attempted to block the way and charged towards the vehicles when a private bodyguard is suspected to have opened fire,” the officer said.
One person suffered grievous injuries in the firing and was taken to a nearby hospital where he succumbed. The deceased was identified as Balkar Singh Thakur Singh (50), he said.
Alert sounded in Punjab
Amritsar: The government has sounded alert in the state after the killing of a Sikh in the firing by guards of Dera Sacha Sauda in Mumbai. Two persons were injured in the firing. The SGPC has sought the immediate arrest of the dera chief.
Sauda Cultists Attack Bombay Sikhs - One Singh Killed, others Injured
Sangat Blocks Bombay-Pune Expressway Situation Tense, Further Protests Planned
Mulund, Mumbai (KP) - On Friday, personal bodyguards of the criminal Sirsa Sauda cultist Gurmeet Ram Rahim opened fire on a group of Sikhs whom were protesting the Bombay visit of the Sirsa cult leader.
Ram Rahim, who is accused of multiple murders and rapes, was visiting a shopping mall in this north-eastern suburb of Bombay when several Sikh youths protested his presence. In response, his bodyguards fired more than 20 rounds of ammunition from their assault rifles into the crowd of Sikhs, resulting in the death of Bhai Balkar Singh of the Bir Khalsa organization and injuring dozens of others.
The Bombay attack brought back the memory of the 1978 Nirankari Sikh massacre at Amritsar Sahib and Kanpur in which dozens of Sikhs were killed by heretic pseudo-Nirankaris.
Criminals Leave Scene after Merciless Killing
According to eyewitnesses the Baba was immediately escorted out of the mall and fled the crime scene within one of the 50 vehicles in his entourage. The news of the attack quickly spread throughout Bombay’s Sikh community, who began blocking traffic in various parts of the city. Sikh activists quickly began to track his caravan and converged to stop the cultists from fleeing.
Realizing the route to the Bombay airport was too dangerous, Ram Rahim‘s 50 vehicle entourage then drove north onto the Pune-Bombay Expressway. As news spread of Ram Rahim’s location, thousands of Sikhs began to converge on the expressway and brought it to a standstill for several hours.
Pune Sangat Block Expressway from North
Meanwhile, Sikhs assembled at a Raensabaee Kirtan program (all night hymn singing) in Puna, upon hearing the news of the Bombay attack, gathered with the local Pune Sangat and split up into several units and began surveillance of the Pune National Airport, the opposite side of the Pune-Bombay Expressway. The protestors then blocked the expressway in hopes of stopping Ram Rahim from escaping through this artery.
One of the protestors assembled on the expressway stated that after several hours of blockage, the Sangat became convinced that Ram Rahim‘s entourage must have taken a detour, and finally allowed the traffic to move. According to the protestors, the Pune police cited them under IPC 135, and summoned them to appear in court.
The Sikh protestors accuse the central and state governments of turning a blind eye towards the transgressions of the Sirsa cult leader. Last year, the Sauda Cult leader dressed himself as Guru Gobind Singh Ji and mimicked the sacred Sikh Amrit-Sanchar ceremony carried out by Guru Gobind Singh Sahib on Vaisakhi of 1699, resulting in international outcry by the Sikh Nation.
Since then, numerous clashes between his followers and the Sikh community have occurred. On May 17th, 2007, Bhai Kanwaljeet Singh of Sunam was martyred by the cultists near one of his deras in Bathinda.
Bhai Balkar Singh is the second Shaheed in the agitation towards bringing the criminal cultist to justice. Reaction to this latest incident was swift, major Sikh organizations, including the Akali Dal Amritsar, Damdami Taksal, Akhand Kirtani Jatha, and the Singh Sabhas demanded the immediate arrest of the cult’s criminal mastermind and his bodyguards.
Large rallies and protests have been planned across Punjab and India this weekend in response to this incident.
Friday, June 20, 2008
The protest by Sikhs led to altercations between Rahim’s supporters & the Sikh group which turned violent after the group allegedly started pelting stones. Rahim’s bodyguard fired at the crowd in which one person injured. The victim was succumbed after being taken to a nearby hospital. Ram Rahim left the mall soon & his motorcade has been stopped in the jurisdiction of the Khopoli police station in neighbouring Raigad district.
Ram Rahim had drawn the ire of Sikhs for allegedly hurting their religious sentiments after he appeared dressed as Guru Gobind Singh Ji at a public function in Haryana’s Sirsa town where a religious commune headed by him is situated.
One person was killed when the security guard of Ram Rahim Singh, the controversial spiritual leader of the Dera Sachcha Sauda sect, fired at protestors, shouting slogans against him at Mulund in North-east Mumbai tonight.
Ram Rahim had come to Mulund to attend a programme at the Nirmal Lifestyle mall at 1930 hrs, when some people, protesting his visit, started ranting slogans.
The security guard, who has not been identified, fired at the protestors, killing one of them and injuring another, police said.
Majority of the demonstrators were from the Sikh community, who blocked the entire stretch of the LBS road in the area, said an eye-witness.
Ram Rahim Baba and his security guard are holed up in a building and the protestors are demanding the arrest of the duo.
Police have cordoned off the area.
One person was killed on Friday in firing by a bodyguard of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh, which is at loggerheads with the Sikh clergy, during clashes between Sikhs and supporters of the group in a mall in a north-east Mumbai suburb, police said.The clashes occurred during a visit by Singh in the Nirmal Lifestylesmall in suburban Mulund late on Friday evening, they said.A group of Sikhs allegedly went into the mall and started shouting anti-Dera Sacha Sauda slogans. This resulted in altercations between the protestors and Singh's followers after which the former resorted to stone-pelting, they said.Singh's bodyguard fired at the crowd at around 1845 hours during the melee injuring one person, they said, adding the victim succumbed after being taken to a nearby hospital.The Dera Sacha Sauda chief left the mall soon and his motorcade hasbeen stopped in the jurisdiction of the Khopoli police station in neighbouring Raigad district, they said.Singh had drawn the ire of Sikhs for allegedly hurting their religious sentiments after he appeared dressed as Guru Gobind Singh at a public function in Haryana's Sirsa town where a religious commune headed by him is situated.
Iwas at the scene when this all happened..i was just going to the parking lot. every thing happened in front of me. also inside the mall i saw n number of private guards who were lookin more like goons than guards loaded with weapons which included latest automatic ammunitions.the baba who talks about love and peace was looking like a mafia with such a security.some of the protestors started shouting murdabad slogans.every thing was looking fully prepared..some ppl from baba's side came with open firearms and some with DANDAS, and they jumped on the crowd, i didnt see the gun fires, but i saw they beatup an elderly sardar on the head ..quite a horrifyn scene it was..then later on the protestors did a rasta roko ..luckily after a bit of wait i was home with my car..but when switched the news channels , there was full on jam on the road.
Every single victim of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom has been doubly humiliated. The trauma and the sense of shame have been re-visited. The souls of those who were burnt alive, garlanded with burning cycle tyres, could not have been cursed in a worse manner.
The joint national agenda of the Hindu ultra-right wing Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and the now-soft-now-hardcore communalism-propagating Congress are being implemented in Punjab by Sardar Parkash Singh Badal. Welcome! Please step in, and meet the new Indian National Hero: Parkash Singh Badal. God save the Panth.
On June 12, Parkash Singh Badal thought it fit to lay the foundation stone of the new campus of the Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law (RGNUL). There was not a murmur of protest from the Akali Dal-BJP leadership at the nomenclature of the Institute, and this when the same government was creating so much of fuss over the nomenclature of the upcoming international airport at Chandigarh.
So much so that Parkash Singh Badal was writing one missive after the other to the Prime Minister to name the Bathinda refinery after the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh and the Chandigarh airport after Shaheed Bhagat Singh.
At a time when activists like advocate Harwinder Singh Phoolka and journalists like Manoj Mitta have done so much to push for the course of justice for 1984 genocide victims and demands for a memorial to the victims has been raised by Mitta and many others -- Mitta even suggested the Trilokpuri block in Delhi, the worst site of the massacres -- the Parkash Singh Badal government, the SGPC, the Akali Dal, and even our clergy have remained silent on the issue.
Till, of course, only that moment whne they decided to make the silence more deafening. Not one statement from not one organization, except some honorable exceptions like the Dal Khalsa and a few radical voices, have been heard on Badal backing the Institute named after Rajiv Gandhi.
This is the man whose "When a big tree falls, the earth shakes" shook the subcontinent with an extreme form of display of lack of humanity.
Or does Badal Sahib have a hidden agenda to make the path smoother for the Sikhs in the Indian nation-state? After all, India is a nuclear power nation state with a rising economic clout in the world and a burgeoning middle class. What good will come out of a continuing inimical relationship with New Delhi, particularly when the top two parties with cross-country presence, the Congress and the BJP, agree on their anti-Sikh stance? So, this is his way of mending the relationship with the Congress, headed by Rajiv Gandhi's widow Sonia Gandhi.
After all, Rajiv Gandhi was a young leader and could have made a mistake. Did he not sign an accord with the Sikhs and helped factionalized Akalis to gain power again? Is that Badal Sahib's argument? Then, will it not be better to go the whole hog and name a few institutions after Indira Gandhi. After all, why not show magnanimity, the one thing in abundance that a victim should possess?
Or, better still, at a time when the world is trembling at the thought of Osama bin Laden, and the West is fond of talking about Islamic terrorism, why not iron out the civilisational faults of history and the bitterness of the historical past, and name a college in Badal village or the many new upcoming ventures in Sukhbir Badal's current baby constituency Bathinda after Ahmed Shah Abdali or Nadarshah?
That Badal's backing and foundation stone laying ceremony with a huge portrait of Rajiv Gandhi in the background comes at a time when the Akali Dal and the SGPC seem to have washed of their hands from the issue of raising a memorial to the 1984 Operation Bluestar martyrs is all the more sad.
At the same time, it has filled the average Sikh with rage.
Rage that Badal has gone a step further after tying up his electoral and family fortunes with the Indian establishment represented by the hegemonic forces of Congress, BJP and their many avatars. The silence at the anniversary of Operation Bluestar has been followed up by paying floral tributes to Rajiv Gandhi and naming Law Institute campus after him.
It would have been a different matter if Badal had protested, or even suggested, that a wholesome policy for naming of public institutions be evolved. It is no one's case that we should stop using the airport at Delhi because it is named after Indira Gandhi, but we must demand that airports naming should have a uniform policy.
From attending havans to visiting temples of Lord Parshuram to wearing Mukats to performing aarti on the occasion of Ram Navmi to defending BJP's line on Ram Sethu, Badal is going a step ahead every week. Only a fortnight back, he actually chanted Hare Krishna Hare Rama and asked the rest of the sangat to repeat the chant after him.
As we wrote recently, any quom that disowns its legacy is condemned to live in a denial mode. Badal is pursuing a dangerous luxury. This is a well thought out effort to erase collective memory. Assassins of memories must be pointed out, and it is now up to the Sikh intelligentsia and the sangat to come out in the open and call a spade a spade, a hero of the brahamanical forces a Parkash Singh Badal.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Two outside Takhts defy Akal Takht
An unprecedented Panthic crisis has been created in the Sikh Panth with the clergy of Takht Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib openly defying the directive and Gurmattas, passed in the meetings of Akal Takht on June 6.
The situation seems to have reached a point of no-return since the Sikh clerics of Punjab have stopped inviting jathedars of both Takhts and took a diametrically opposite stands on the Maryada (Sikh code). Takht Patna Sahib and Takht Hazoor Sahib have already rejected the Nanakshahi Calendar, approved by Akal Takht and SGPC, and continue to recite the Dasam Granth.
The crisis has developed at a time when the Sikh community and different Panthic organisations are busy in chalking out programmes to mark the tercentenary celebrations of the Gurta Gaddi of Guru Granth Sahib in October.
Members of the Sikh community all over the world are of the view that if the jathedars of all five Takhts have failed to resolve their own disputes, it will be difficult for them to solve the problems being faced by the Sikh community.
Most of the problems arose as the Jathedar, Akal Takht, failed to give proper leadership to the Sikh high priests. This was why the community was divided on almost all Sikh centenaries, celebrated during the stint of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti as Jathedar, Akal Takht.
Various Sikh organisations had been accusing Jathedar Vedanti of passing controversial edicts/directives in the meetings of Akal Takht. It is said Jathedar Vedanti remains on foreign tours most of the time and gives less time to affairs of Akal Takht. Serious allegations were levelled against his personal assistant and relative, Prithipal Singh Sandhu.
The Panthic circles are of the view that the current division between Sikh clergy of Punjab (Akal Takht, Kesgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib) and two outside Takhts
(Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib) would cause irreparable damage to the age-old Sikh institutions. The meeting of Takht Hazur Sahib has clearly announced that directives issued from Akal Takht without the presence of the representatives of all the five takhts won’t be acceptable to the Sikh Panth.
The meeting of Akal Takht, held on June 6, had imposed an undeclared ban on Jathedar Iqbal Singh from attending the meetings and called upon the Sikh Panth to reject all the controversial edicts issued by him (from Takht Patna Sahib).
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
In the biggest haul of explosives in Punjab in recent times, the Ludhiana rural police (Jagraon) this morning nabbed two alleged terrorists with 24.5 kg of explosives and 25 detonators, enough to trigger 25 major blasts in the state.
The explosives, packed in 195 gelatine sticks, reached here this time through inter-state smuggling, while earlier these used to be smuggled from across the border.
The explosives, as powerful as the RDX, had manufacturing stamp of a Nagpur-based factory. The detonators were brought from Andhra Pradesh.
The police said the exact chemical composition of the explosives would be known after chemical tests.
The arrested youths, Gurbhej Singh, alias Sonu, of Kathunangal in Amritsar and Manjit Singh, alias Mita, of Barde Ke village in Jagraon, both aged less than 25, were said to be unemployed. They have no criminal or terrorist background.
IG Sanjiv Kalra and DIG Ishwar Singh told reporters that SSP Jagraon Gurpreet Singh Bhullar and his team intercepted the two youths during a nakabandi at Canal Bridge in Akhara village in the wee hours today. The explosives were found in a blue suitcase they were carrying on their motor cycle PB-13Q-4804.
The cops were yet to ascertain which terrorist outfit supported them.” Of late, strict cadres of terrorist organisations are diminishing. They are loosely organised and could be helped and aided by one or other organisation,” said SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar.
Preliminary questioning of the accused revealed that their main targets were Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarewala, Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, chief Dera Sacha Sauda and crowded places, including vital installations.
The youths said they were working at the instance of one Gurmeet Singh, alais Bagga, who belonged to Jhajj village near Tanda in Hoshiarpur. He was now based in Hamburg, Germany. Intelligence agencies from across the border also helped them.
The recovered explosives had the mark- Super Power- 90 Solar Explosive Limited village Chak Doe Bazar Gaon in Nagpur district. The detonators were of village Peddakandukur, Vadagiri, Gutta Mandal, Nalsonda district (Andhra Pardesh). Investigation revealed that this gang has its sympathisers in different parts of the country and abroad.
The Jagraon police had a week ago arrested a woman of Fatehgarh Sahib for helping terrorist organisations. One group allegedly helped by her was caught smuggling arms in Jammu a few weeks ago.
Punjab police HC caught with 210 kg drugs
A Sangrur-based head constable Rachan Singh was Sunday caught by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence from near the Radisson Hotel in Delhi with 210 kg of synthetic drugs along with his three accomplices. DRI officials, who conducted a raid at his house at Didba village at Sangrur, seized Rs 13 lakh and were astonished to see two Mitsubishi Lancers there.
The head constable is an international kabaddi player and was recruited in the police under the sports quota. On Saturday he was caught by the team of the DRI department near Radisson hotel when he was carrying the synthetic drugs from Rajasthan to Delhi. The team seized 150 kg of ketamine and 60 kg of amphetamine and a permanent residency card of Canada. The team also seized Rs 13 lakh from his house.
Protesters attack MTV office in Mumbai
The Mumbai MTV office was attacked by a group of protesters on Monday afternoon.
Protesters gathered outside MTV office in Mumbai's Parel area shouting slogans against one promo poster that was put outside the MTV office.
The poster in which a one person belonging to a community was allegedly shown in a compromising position.
After a while the group entered the office and went on a rampage damaging office property and equipment, an employee was hurt.
Police have been informed and police force has been sent to the site.
SGPC Chief supports attack on MTV channel's Mumbai office for hurting Sikh sentiments
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar said that members of a Sikh organization recently attacked the office of a music channel MTV at Mumbai as the channel has hurt the sentiments of Sikhs by put up a defamatory poster.
Talking to media persons on Tuesday after flagging off an ambulance and inaugurating CCTV cameras at Gurdwara Sri Fatehgarh Sahib, Makkar said that no one has right to hurt sentiments of Sikhs. He said it was not first time when the sentiments of Sikhs were hurt. He said in past such incidents happened several time and the SGPC had repeatedly request the Union government to induct representatives of SGPC in censor board or any other organization which could check the contents of pictures or serial related with Sikh community and stop any violation.
When asked, "Will he justify the attack on MTV office by group of Sikhs", he replied it was not attack. He said it was only protest of Sikhs.
He said earlier there was controversy about comedy –action film 'Singh is King' that Sikhs were pictures in poor shape in the picture. He said when the matter came to notice of the SGPC it immediately swung into action. A meeting was held between SGPC representative and the film producer and all objectionable scenes in pictures have removed. He said that the producer of the picture had also given in writing on Rs 100 affidavit about it. He said now SGPC panel have cleared the picture.
He said a case was recently brought to notice of SGPC that a Jalandhar based publisher had published wrong information about a Sikh Master in its G.K. book but later the published had apologized. He said that such acts should not be done for which one had to apologise later.
He said Gurdwara Sri Fatehgarh Sahib falls under section 85 is the first Gurdwara where Ambulance have started. He said that if the experiment prove successful it would be implemented in other section 85 Gurdwaras as these are directly under control of SGPC whereas Gurdwara under section 87 are under control of local Gurdwara committees.
On the conflict between Takht Sri Patna Sahib Jathedar Giani Iqbal Singh and other Jathedars, he said it would be settled amicably. On statement of Giani Iqbal Singh that Takht Patna Sahib is second after Akal Takht and it is competent to take decision after Akal Takht and he(Iqbal Singh) will issue 'white paper' about 'misdeeds' of Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, he said Iqbal Singh has no stand. He said that serious allegations have already leveled on Iqbal Singh so he has no right to work on his present position.
On the recently meeting of the Sikh clergy at Takht Hazoor Singh in which Vedanti was criticized for holding a meeting on June 6 without invitation to Takht Patna Sahib, Makkar refused to comment on it. He said that he will not want to create any controversy. He said that Akal Takht Jathedar had already asked Sikh sangat not to raise any controversy till completion of Gurtagadi functions.
On SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann demanding his resignation, Makkar said that Mann used to issue unnecessary statement. There is no base of Mann and his party in Punjab.
On police protection to Sikh pilgrims to Hemkhund Sahib in Uttranchal, Makkar said that it was brought to his notice by Sant Beant Singh that there is clash between Sikh pilgrims and Uttranchal residents. He said he immediately discussed the matter with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Badal further take up matter with Uttranchal CM so now heavy security is provided to deal any untoward situation.
He also appreciated the British police effort which spent a whopping 1, 00,000 pound trying to adapt a helmet to fit over a Sikh cop's turban.
Telling about his recent Ahmadabad (Gujarat) visit, Makkar said that a Sikh devotee had given 20,000 yard land free of cost to SGPC to set up a Parchar Mission there.
Expressing his annoying with Railway Minister Laloo Parshad Yadav, Makkar said that he had sought appointment from Laloo's Personal Assistant(PA) several times to fix meeting with the minister for training some special trains for forthcoming 'Gurtagudi Diwas' functions but the minister did not give meeting time till today. He said that it is indifferent attitude of the Railway Minister. He said that he was recently in Ahmadabad but there is no train from Ahmadabad to Amritsar if any devotees want to board train to pay obeisance at Darbar Sahib.