M A I N   N E W S

Dera men, Sikhs clash: 1 killed
Curfew in Dabwali
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Dabwali, July 18
The Sikh-Dera Sacha Sauda row raised its ugly head once again today when a Sikh activist died following a clash between the two groups in this subdivision early this morning.

Following the incident, the mob went on the rampage and resorted to arson. Property worth lakhs and vehicles were set ablaze. Four persons, including mediapersons, were injured.

As a preventive measure, the administration imposed a curfew in Dabwali city after a couple of hours of the incident.

V. Umashankar, deputy commissioner, said the BSF and the police held a flag march to bring the situation under control. The police was called in from Fatehabad, Hisar and Jind. Besides, two companies of the Rapid Action Force and one of the CRPF were also summoned. He said a request for deploying the Army had also been forwarded.

Sunder Das Mehta, a dera follower, had organised “naam charcha” (religious congregation) at his house located near the Dabwali bus stand on the occasion of the birthday of his grandson Karan. According to eyewitness accounts, after some time, activists of the Guru Granth Sahib Satkar Sabha (GGSSS), Haryana, arrived in a vehicle at the place and objected to the continuation of the “naam charcha”.

This led to an altercation between the two groups, which soon turned bloody when Harmandar Singh, vice-president of the Dabwali unit of the GGSSS, received a gashing wound on his head. He was taken to the Dabwali Civil Hospital where he was declared brought dead. The deceased used to run an auto workshop on the Bathinda road. Two dera followers, Jagsir Singh and Gurdeep Singh, were also injured.

However, the district administration disputed the cause of his death and said he died after he fell on the ground. Infuriated Sikh activists placed the body on the road in the main bazar and blocked the road. Subsequently, the police reached the spot. However, the agitators threw stones at the policemen.

When the police used force to disperse them, the agitators went on the rampage and burnt several shops and houses of dera followers in the main bazar. Anarchy prevailed in the town for quite some time and the mob set on fire whatever came its way. The protesters threw stones on vehicles of the fire brigade.

In the meantime, the dera followers also held a protest in front of the Dabwali police station for “its inability to safeguard the lives and property of ‘premis’”. They said it was unethical to stop them from reciting the name of the almighty in their houses.

Meanwhile, the working of the police has also come under a scanner for failing to control the situation. According to eyewitnesses, the police “remained a mute spectator”.

In the melee, the deputy commissioner also received minor injuries.

The house of dera follower Madan was set on fire, which caused an LPG cylinder blast as a result of which the roof of the house collapsed. Gurdeep Singh and Shivji Ram, dera followers, said their houses and shops were burnt.

The deputy commissioner said a case had been registered and a person arrested. The police was on the lookout for three other persons. However, he declined to disclose the name of person who was arrested.

The Dabwali incident had its repercussions in the adjoining areas as well. Sikh activists allegedly forced closure of shops and other commercial establishments in markets in the Kalanwali assembly segment, Rania and Ellenabad subdivisions.

Besides, various rumours kept doing the rounds in Sirsa city throughout the day. A rumour that shops were being forcibly closed spread like wild fire and traders pulled down the shutters of their shops. However, the shops were opened after members of the Peace Committee held a peace march, urging people to maintain peace and harmony.

In the wake of clashes between in Dabwali, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today sought the Centre’s intervention into the issue. He said the guilty must be given stringent punishment. He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 29th annual convocation of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh.



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