M A I N   N E W S

Arrest warrant against dera chief
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 20
In a significant development that could give a new twist to the standoff between Dera Sacha Sauda and Sikh organisations, additional chief judicial magistrate A.L. Kitchi today issued arrest warrant against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head, Dera Sacha Sauda, in connection with a criminal case registered against him under Section 295-A of the IPC on May 20 in Bathinda.

Sources said the magistrate directed the police to seek permission from the state government before arresting him.

A formal application was moved in the court by the police for securing his arrest warrant on June 18. However, the court took up the application yesterday and later adjourned the case.

The case was registered on the complaint of Rajinder Singh Sidhu, president, Khalsa Diwan. The dera head was charged with hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs through his blasphemous act of imitating Guru Gobind Singh and enacting the religious baptism ceremony.

The police has also registered two criminal cases against dera followers for their alleged involvement in violence on May 14 and 15. Nearly 20 followers have been arrested so far.

Nau Nihal Singh, SSP, said the police would get the copy of arrest warrants tomorrow.

UNI adds: While referring to the plea of the prosecution, the court questioned the motive behind registering the case at a police station in Bathinda instead of at the Bhagta police station as the dera head had enacted the baptism ceremony at Salabatpura village. The prosecution contended that the case was registered at a local police station after the complaint of a local resident and, moreover, Bathinda, too, had been affected by the violence that followed the Salabatpura incident.

As the police had not sought the permission of the state government while registering the case, the court directed the prosecution to get the permission. The court pointed out that for registering a case under Section 295-A, the permission had to be first sought from the government.

After the prosecution assured the court that the permission would be formally sought from the government, the magistrate issued non-bailable warrants that are returnable by July 1.

During the arguments yesterday, the prosecution told the court that the police had raided the dera at Sirsa twice in the recent past to arrest Ram Rahim. However, on both occasions due to the presence of a large number of followers, the police could not arrest him.



Fresh apology, this time to Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh/Mohali, June 20
In what could defuse tension and soothe frayed nerves in the North India, especially Punjab, chief of Dera Sacha Sauda Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh today issued a fresh apology. Now, he has apologised for his actions to the entire Sikh community.

It comes on a day when a court issued an arrest warrant against the dera chief for allegedly hurting the Sikh community's sentiments.

A copy of the letter was delivered by a special emissary of the Dera Sacha Sauda to chief of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee P.S. Sarna, who, in turn, has handed it over to SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar here today for acceptance of the Sikh high priests. Makkar said the letter had been received, however, he refused to comment, saying that only jathedar of the Akal Takht Joginder Singh Vedanti would comment on it. Makkar and Sarna addressed a joint press conference at Mohali here tonight.

It had been decided that a 10-member committee would be formed to iron out differences between the sect and the Sikh community, said Sarna. It would have five members each from among the Sikhs and followers of the sect. The choice of five members of the Sikhs had been left to Sikh high priests.

Sources said an MLA from Punjab, a dera emissary and a senior intelligence official were present when Sarna provided the information about the breakthrough in the deadlock.

Sarna told The Tribune that the apology letter was signed by the dera and it should not have any problems in being accepted. He revealed that the DSGMC was working behind the scene to persuade the dera chief to see reason.

A meeting of the Khalsa Action Committee was held tonight to decide on the further course of action. Various Sikh organisations was mounting pressure on the Punjab government asking it to arrest the dera chief and a case was registered against him on May 20 for "hurting the religious sentiments" of the Sikhs.



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