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Takht calls for Punjab bandh
*Seeks closure of deras by May 27
*Rejects dera chief’s apology
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, jathedar, Akal Takht, addresses devotees at Akal Takht in Amritsar
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, jathedar, Akal Takht, addresses devotees at Akal Takht in Amritsar on Sunday. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, May 20
Akal Takht today took an unprecedented decision to give a call for complete Punjab bandh tomorrow (May 22) in protest against the blasphemous acts of Dera Sacha Sauda chief, apart from serving yet another ultimatum to close down all its branches, including the one at Salabatpura in Bathinda by May 27.

Pronouncing the “Gurmata” from the rostrum of Akal Takht, Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti said the next course of action would be announced on May 31, if the decisions taken by the Sikh clergy today were not implemented in toto.

The Sikh clergy who listened to the representatives of various Sikh organisations before passing “Gurmata” also rejected an apology tendered by Dera Sacha Sauda chief. They described it (apology) as a mere eyewash. They said the feelings of the Sikhs were greatly hurt with the blasphemous acts of dera chief which they won’t tolerate. They, however, urged the Sikhs to exercise restraint and remain peaceful during the proposed Punjab bandh.

The “Gurmata” was signed by jathedars of all four Takhts, including Vedanti, Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Tarlochan Singh, Iqbal Singh, Jathedars of Akal Takht, Damdama Sahib, Kesgarh Sahib and Patna Sahib and head Granthi, Hazoor Sahib, Partap Singh, respectively.

In yet another significant decision, Akal Takht pronounced that a sub-committee, to be formed by the Sikh clergy would meet the Prime Minister, the President and the Union home minister to request for the speedy trial of the dera chief by the CBI in connection with a number of criminal cases pending against the dera before May 30.

The Sikh clergy also decided to flag off a Sikh jatha from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib on May 31, which would submit a memorandum to the governors of Punjab and Haryana for taking strict action against the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Earlier, whispering started in the meeting of the Sikh clergy when advisor to Chief Minister Daljit Singh Cheema entered the Akal Takht venue. They said Cheema should have avoided the meeting since he was a cabinet minister and advisor to the Chief Minister and did not represent any Sikh organisation. Those attending the meeting apprehended that Cheema was deputed by the Chief Minister to keep a watch on Sikh clergy so that they could not take any decision, which would put the state government in difficult situation.

However, senior leaders of many Sikh organisations appreciated the role of the Badal government in booking the dera chief. President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee Parmjit Singh Sarna, SAD (A) senior vice-president Daljit Singh Bittu and convener of Akal Purkh ki Fauj Jaswinder Singh Advocate, appreciated the decision taken by the Sikh clergy.

Earlier, Sikh youths who were getting restive due to the delaying of decision taken by Akal Takht raised slogans against Jathedars. A few youths raised slogans like “Bhinderanwale zindabad”. However, when the Sikh high priests pronounced the “Gurmata” the congregation seemed satisfied and raised slogans like “Akal Takht mahan hai, Sikh Panth di shaan hai”.

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