September 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India
Baba Piara Singh’s dera raided
Ropar, September 23
About 20 police parties under the supervision of the SSP, Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, descended on the dera. Hundreds of policemen cordoned off the entire area around the dera and took into custody 26 followers of the Baba.
After minor resistance, all were loaded into a truck and taken to the Nurpur Bedi police station. However, Baba Piara Singh escaped arrest as he was not present at the dera at the time of the raid. His associates told police officials that he had left the dera early in the morning to feed animals in the adjoining jungle.
When this correspondent visited the dera, it had been converted into a virtual police cantonment. All followers of the Baba had been whisked away, except for two of them who had been left behind to look after the animals at the dera. One of them, Gurmeet Singh from Fatehgarh Sahib district, said the police descended on the dera at about 7.30 am and took away all followers, including women.
Senior police officers, including the SSP, Ropar, are camped at the dera, waiting for the return of the Baba. The arrest and search warrants for Baba Piara Singh were issued by the CJM, Ropar. A case under Sections 295-A, 161, 452 and 380 of the IPC was registered against him.
Asked about the whereabouts ofthe Baba, the SSP said the jungle area in the vicinity of the dera had been cordoned off. Sources, however, said it would be difficult for the police to trace the Baba in the forest areas which stretched up to the Shivalik ranges. Some were of the view that the Baba, apprehending the police raid, had left the dera in the night and was trying to get anticipatory bail.
Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara has a humble background. His father used to work as a siri (bonded labourer) in Dhamana village. He initially worked in the Forest Department as a labourer.
About a decade ago, he left the job and proclaimed himself a preacher. He encroached upon a piece of land of the Forest Department and established a dera there. After enlisting political leaders as his followers, the most famous among them former Union Minister Buta Singh, his popularity among the masses grew. Soon, he proclaimed himself to be the incarnate of the Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.
He also adored a ‘kalgi’. His actions evoked the then Jathedar of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh to ex-communicate him from the Sikh Panth in 1998. This, however, did not have deter his followers. The growing strength of his followers encouraged the Baba and he allegedly authored Bhav Sagar Samunder Granth.
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