M A I N   N E W S

Dera undecided on apology
All-religion delegation for changes in draft
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
After a series of deliberations, closed-door meetings, clarifications and assurances, the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda was undecided until late in the evening whether to tender a conditional or unqualified apology to Akal Takht to bring to an end the unsavoury controversy generated over the dera chief’s alleged imitation of Guru Gobind Singh and replication of the baptismal ceremony.

The draft sent to the all-religion delegation by the dera in the union capital was, however, returned to the dera with a suggestion that an “unqualified apology” should be free of all “ifs” and “buts” as the “apology” in the present form would in all likelihood be turned down by the Sikh clergy.

The all-religion delegation was still waiting to hear from the dera on the revised draft. The argument given was that the “unqualified apology” as tendered by the dera was to be taken to the Jathedar of Akal Takht, which had to review its earlier edict primarily on the basis of the “intent and content” of the apology.

Any “conditional apology” would in all likelihood be turned down leading to a delay in a solution. It has been impressed upon the dera that any delay in the “apology” process would bring all parties under additional pressure and should be avoided.

While all eyes remained focused on Dera Sacha Sauda for accepting the draft of the “apology from the core of the heart” to the Sikh community for the “unintended hurt” caused by the dera’s May 13 advertisement in various newspapers, the ball has now moved to the court of the jathedars of various takhts before whom the “apology” would be placed.

Earlier in the day, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had presided over a meeting of party MPs, MLAs, district jathedars and other senior leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal to review the situation arising out of the current controversy.

Though Badal announced that no one would be allowed to disturb peace, communal harmony and order in the state, he did not specifically touch the concerns raised by Dera Sacha Sauda over the safety and security of its “premis” and deras in the state.

The sources, however, maintain that a public statement by the Chief Minister that the government would protect life and property of its people was a categoric assurance which met the requirements of the dera and its followers.

They reveal that after a series of deliberations, in New Delhi, Sirsa and Chandigarh, the dera leaders finally relented and agreed to sign the draft sent it to it by the all-religion delegation.

People of the dera were skeptical about their security after the tendering of a written apology for all “unintended hurts” to the Sikh community.

They maintained that they could never ever consider either intimating any Sikh Guru or replicating any of the historic ceremonies associated with this great religion and its Gurus who had made unprecedented sacrifices. They agreed to tender an apology in case any of their “unintentional actions” had created any “hurt” or “bitterness”.



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