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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Latest News from India about Protests against Ram Rahim

Sikhs in Punjab on warpath, block tracks

Demanding arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh in the wake of the Mumbai firing incident, nearly 150 Sikh protestors have gathered near Amritsar railway station and stopped several trains. At least five trains are held up by protestors near Amritsar and Abohar stations, which include: Amritsar-Delhi Shatabdi and Sach Khand express, Abha Tufan, Abohar-Haridwar express and intercity between Abohar and Ganganagar. 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 bodyguard of the Dera chief in Mumbai last week. On Tuesday, Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal asked for a judicial probe into the firing by the private security guards of controversial Dera Sacha Sauda chief in a Mumbai mall. In another resolution, the party demanded that the Dera chief should not be allowed to take his gunmen inside the court either. The 'rail roko' call given by Damdami Taksal, SAD Amritsar(Presidium) 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 said.Punjab Police sources said here that though the movement of trains had come to a halt, the situation was peaceful.Sikh protestors also blocked the Amrtitsar - Delhi highway. On Tuesday, Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal asked for a judicial probe into the Mumbai firing incident. In another resolution, the party demanded that the Dera chief not be allowed to take his gunmen inside court. Trains cancelled:The 2204 Amritsar-Saharsa Garib Rath Express The 2014 Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi ExpressThe 2716 Amritsar-Nanded Sachkhand ExpressThe 2460 Amritsar-New Delhi Intercity ExpressThe 5210 Amritsar-Saharsa Jan Sewa ExpressThe 2054 Amritsar-Haridwar Jan Shatabdi ExpressThe 5708 Amritsar-Katihar Express2SUN-Nangal Dam-Sharanpur passenger.2ULN/3ULN Ambala-Ludihana-Ambala passenger.Trains short terminated:The 2903 Amritsar-Mumbai Central Golden Temple Mail short terminated at Beas.The 4631 Dehradun- Amritsar Express short terminated at Dhillwan.The 8237 Bilaspur- Amritsar short terminated at Jalandhar Cantt.The 3049 Howrah-Amritsar Express short terminated at Ambala.1SUN/2SUN Nagal-Dam-Saharanpur passenger short terminated at Ambala.334 Amritsar-Ambalal passenger short terminated at Sirhind.Trains diverted:The 8101 Tata Nagar-Jammu Tawi Muri Express has been diverted to run via Jalandhar-Patiala stations. (With PTI inputs)

Rail roko agitation passes off peacefully 7 trains cancelled, as many rescheduled; Delhi-Lahore bus service hit

Parts of state rail links remained cutoff from the rest of the country for almost four hours today with activists of various Sikh organisations placing logs and staging dharnas on the tracks in protest against the delay in the arrest of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for the killing of a Sikh in Mumbai recently. Even the Lahore-bound bus from Delhi was delayed due to the road blockade by activists of the SAD (Amritsar).
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.

The security arrangements have been tightened at Salabatpur Dera, the biggest centre of Sacha Sauda in Punjab, following fresh agitation on the call of the Khalsa Action Committee for the arrest of Dera chief Baba Ram Rahim.
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.

Dera Row‘Inept handling by SGPC, Akal Takht, SAD deepened crisis’

Inept handling of the Dera Sacha Sauda issue by the SGPC, Akal Takht and the Shiromani Akali Dal seems to have resulted inthe hijacking of the agenda by radical Sikhs leading to complicating the situation.
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.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sahib Jeo, SSA.
Doings of the Dera Baba are painful and have become rather unbearable. Your web site is read by Sikh Jagat and is respected. Despite their hostile acts please do not address him Dog. You need to keep your scholarly eloquence and not be seen as abusive. Thank you for the Leadership role.

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