M A I N   N E W S

Moderates carry the day in Punjab
Ajay Banerjee
Surinder Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

SGPC demands

Prohibit (the Dera) from the exploiting sacred symbols of various religions without their express permission.
A provision for stringent punishments be made in law so that such -like mischief-mongers do not dare play with religious sentiments of people.
The dera chief should not be allowed to evade the course of law, against charges of rape, murder and conspiracy already framed against him.
A high-level inquiry be instituted into his blasphemous actions to unravel the larger conspiracy of destabilising the state in particular and the nation in general.

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 31
The procession of Sikh organisations was peaceful here today. However, difference of opinion emerged between the moderates and the radicals. The former, clearly in strength, virtually pushed the radicals to the background and decided the future course of action against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, chief of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda.

This may allay fears of people across the country that radicals were slowly re-establishing control in Punjab.

Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti virtually echoed the feelings of the congregation saying “peaceful protests will continue till the dera chief is not uprooted”.

He said no issue could be solved with gun. He reminded the youth that the state had seen troubled times during the dark days of militancy and praised them for controlling them despite provocation. He asked those present in the congretaion to use “gyan”and not gun to solve the issue.

peace march

Sukhbir Badal at a congregation at Fathehgarh Sahib

Kirpal Singh Badungar, former SGPC president, leads a march at Fatehgarh Sahib

Leading the march were a large number of men in khaki
(From top) Sukhbir Badal at a congregation at Fathehgarh Sahib on Thursday; Kirpal Singh Badungar, former SGPC president, leads a march at Fatehgarh Sahib; and leading the march were a large number of men in khaki.
— Tribune photos — Pradeep Tewari

The signal for peace from the moderates was clear at the outset. At the ‘ardas’ at the commencement of the procession the head granthi of the historic Fatehgarh Sahib gurdwara — in the presence of all Sikh high priests and other religious leaders — prayed to the Almighty to punish the Dera chief terming him a “dharam dokhi” (religious offender). The radical groups, told the media later they rejected this and wanted the arrest of the Dera chief and strong action. This group even carried computer- generated print outs praising Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and “Khalistan”.

The two groups ended up taking out separate processions with the radical elements surprising everybody by taking out their procession first. The team of moderates lead by Avtar Singh SGPC chief was the last as splinters groups of few other Sikh organisations broke away in small groups. This included one led by Paramjit Singh Sarna chief of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.

This morning the procession started from the historic gurdwara Sri Fatehgarh Sahib and ended 2 km away at the Sri Jyoti Swarup gurdwara even as shopkeepers in this town had put up shutters anticipating trouble.

However, under Akal Takht directions there were no unsheathed swords and no firearms as the Punjab Police and the Rapid Action Force kept watch with senior officers overseeing arrangements.

As the procession ended at Jyoti Swarup gurdwara SGPC chief Avtar Singh r handed over memorandums on behalf of the Sikh Sangat to the ADCs of the Governors of Punjab and Haryana.

It was a rare occasion that Raj Bhawan officials had been sent specifically by the Governors to receive memorandums. It was decided if the ADC’s did not come then a 11-member delegation led by Avtar Singh would go to present the memorandum to the Governors.

Sarna later told media persons the march should have been up to Chandigarh and not culminated at Sri Jyoti Swarup gurdwara here. The Akal Takht hukamnama was clear in this regard and the high priests had acted at the behest of Parkash Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal.

SAD working president Sukhbir Badal said the entire procession and the protest was as per Takht’s hukamnama. The protest will carry on at religious level, he said as his security officers asked him to sit in his bullet-proof car and whisked him away.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |