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Dera crisis talks on course
Draft ready for approval
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
A peaceful bandh in Punjab and positive indications from the negotiations the all-religion delegation had with representatives of Dera Sacha Sauda have raised hopes of an amicable settlement of the controversy that erupted with the insertion of dera advertisements in newspapers on May 13.

Sources reveal that a final draft of the settlement was being forwarded to the dera. It would be subsequently taken to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the Jathedar of Akal Takht in an attempt to bring the unsavoury controversy to an end.

Though members of the all-religion delegation returned to the union capital this morning, negotiations are still on at all levels in an attempt to expedite a settlement.

While the sources reveal that the delegation impressed upon the dera chief and its representatives that nothing less than an “apology” would be acceptable to the Sikh organisations, it is also trying to emphasise that once the dera apologies for its “unintended offence” of either “replicating or imitating” the 10th Sikh Guru, the Sikh clergy should also adopt a forgive- and- forget approach so as to bring about peace.

All developments are being watched closely by the union government, which has already issued two advisories to both the Punjab and Haryana governments, impressing upon them the need for maintaining communal harmony, peace and order.

The worries of the union government stem mainly from the hardcore elements or fundamentalists trying to wrest control of the situation.

The sources reveal that the union government heaved a sigh of relief over the Punjab bandh passing off peacefully yesterday.

The sources further say that after the all-religion delegation returned to the union capital, some senior functionaries of the dera also met members individually and interacted with them on the proposed draft which was later taken to Sirsa for acceptance by “Pitaji”, the dera chief.

The dera representatives continued to maintain before the members of the delegation that they held the Sikh Gurus and all religious ceremonies in high esteem and denied any attempt to “imitate or replicate” any of them. A substantial section of the dera was still open to an apology, saying they had no intention of “imitating or replicating” the 10th Sikh Guru, and further if it assuaged the hurt feelings of the Sikh community, they had no objection to tendering an apology.

Those in the all-religion delegation are hopeful of an early and acceptable solution to the controversy.

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Dera affirms faith in mediators
Tribune News Service

Sirsa, May 23
The Dera Sacha Sauda today affirming full faith in the committee of religious leaders, which is mediating to sort out the conflict with the Sikhs, said that things are going in the right direction but the process has been slowed down with the reported hard statements of Sikhs leaders. While addressing a press conference late evening, the chief spokesman of the dera, Dr Aditya Arora, said that we had learnt that the SGPC has made a statement today insisting on vacating the deras in Punjab. We are verifying the facts and only the SGPC can clarify about it.

He added that religious leaders including Arya Samaj leader Swami Agnivesh held a meeting with dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh till late night yesterday. The misunderstanding between the Sikh high priest and the dera could easily be solved with dialogue.

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