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Punjab okays dera chief’s arrest
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Punjab government tonight gave its sanction for the arrest and prosecution of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Sources in the government confirmed the development regarding the arrest of the dera head.

A PTI report from Chandigarh quoted principal secretary (home) B.C. Gupta regarding the formal permission for the prosecution of the dera chief.

The Punjab police had booked him under Section 295-A of the IPC on May 20. He was charged with hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs through his blasphemous act of imitating Guru Gobind Singh and enacting the religious baptism ceremony.

Sources in the police said two police teams had carried out a dry run in Sirsa, but it would be “impossible” to arrest the dera chief unless he himself volunteers to be arrested. He could also seek bail from the high court.

On June 20, additional chief judicial magistrate, Bathinda, A.L. Kitchi issued arrest warrant against the dera head. He had directed the police to seek permission from the government before arresting him. The arrest warrant is returnable by July 1.

The court had pointed out that for registering a case under Section 295-A, the permission had to be first sought from the government.

The sanction by the government came hours after Akal Takhat rejected the fresh “apology” by the dera chief for allegedly denigrating Guru Gobind Singh.

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Clergy rejects fresh dera apology
Calls for sammelan in Haryana; Arrest dera chief, says Punjab
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 27
The “Gurmatta”, passed at a marathon meeting of the Sikh clergy here today, pronounced that the contents of the fresh apology letter sent by Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda were unacceptable even as Punjab government tonight sanctioned the arrest of dera chief.

This has given a big jolt to the mediation efforts initiated by Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee chief Parmjit Singh Sarna and a section of the Sant Samaj who had put in efforts for eliciting a fresh apology from the dera with a view to resolving the Sikh-dera impasse.

Though jathedar Vedanti did not entertain any query with regard to DSGMC chief’s mediation efforts, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar of Damdamda Sahib, hinted some action against him (Sarna) for opening channel with the dera against whom a “boycott call” had been given to Sikhs.

With the announcement of a big Panthic rally at Ratia (Haryana) in the second “Gurmatta”, the high priests tried to shift the “battle-field” to Haryana where the Congress government is in power.

While rejecting the apology, which has been titled “Press note”, the Sikh clerics, however, hinted that they could accept the apology in future if given in a proper manner. The apology, sent on the letter-head of the dera chief, was not signed by dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who had allegedly indulged in a blasphemous act by imitating Guru Gobind Singh.

According to the “Gurmatta”, the dera had not given any commitment that it won’t indulge in blasphemous acts in future and hence any apology given in a proper fashion could be taken up at the future meetings.

A jathedar said there was no precedent to discuss the written apology at Akal Takht and, hence, such attempts should be stopped for ever. However, the other jathedars did not give much heed to his logic since they wanted to keep such channels open.

Though Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, jathedar of Akal Takht, was under tremendous pressure to accept the apology, it was Giani Iqbal Singh, jathedar of Patna Sahib, who compelled his colleagues not to give any relaxation to the dera chief. It is learnt that the jathedar, Patna Sahib, had even threatened to boycott the future meetings of Akal Takht if the apology was accepted in toto. He said it was an insult to Akal Takht that the apology was titled as “Press note” and the dera did not show courtesy to address it to the Takht.

However, Panthic sources said had the apology been accepted the credit to end the impasse would have gone to the DSGMC chief.

The “Gurmatta”, signed by five Sikh high priests jathedars Vedanti, Giani Iqbal Singh, Giani Tarlochan Singh and Giani Balwant Singh, and Giani Jotinder Singh, Deputy Jathedar of Hazoor Sahib, says the next decision would be taken in case a proper apology as per the sentiments and aspirations of the Sikh masses is tendered.

Earlier, Daljit Singh Bittu, Karnail Singh Panjoli, Kanarpal Singh, Harinder Singh, former IFS officer, and Narain Singh of the SAD (Amritsar) submitted a representation to Akal Takht demanding rejection of the apology. However, the high priests did not give them time to meet despite a plea of Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar of Takht Damdamda Sahib. It was learnt that the Jathedar, Nandgarh, told the other high priests that the hardliners had “misbehaved with him” on the culmination of Khalsa Chetna March on June 24.

Bhai Ram Singh, secretary-general of the SAD (Amritsar) also met the Sikh clergy and demanded rejection of the apology.

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