Premis, hardliners up stakes, cops alert

CHANDIGARH: The state seems to be heading towards another confrontation between Dera Sacha Sauda followers and Sikh hardliners in the aftermath of the killing of Mohinder Singh Bittu, prime accused in sacrilege cases, at Nabha high security jail last evening.

Premis, hardliners up stakes, cops alert

Sukhbir Singh Badal - File photo

editorial@tribune.com

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23

The state seems to be heading towards another confrontation between Dera Sacha Sauda followers and Sikh hardliners in the aftermath of the killing of Mohinder Singh Bittu, prime accused in sacrilege cases, at Nabha high security jail last evening.

While dera officials have announced they will not cremate the body till the conspiracy behind the murder is unravelled, it is their second demand that is a cause of worry. They want all FIRs against dera followers, mostly in sacrilege incidents or law and order cases, be withdrawn immediately.

Countering them, the United Akali Dal and other Sikh groups have announced they will honour the families of the two alleged killers of Bittu on Monday. Sikh leaders, including Mohkam Singh and Gurdeep Singh Bathinda, issued a joint statement saying that the two jail inmates had done what the incumbent Congress as well as the previous Akali-BJP regime failed to do.

The killing and its aftermath has put the state on alert, as on one hand it has given a rallying point to the dera followers and on the other, it has made hardliners active again. The immediate reaction of both groups has already caused tension, leaving security and intelligence agencies on red alert to prevent any serious consequences.

The dera followers had been keeping a low-profile since the 2015 tension over sacrilege incidents and the arrest of their head Gurmeet Ram Rahim in murder and rape cases. They had not even participated as a group in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections in Punjab. Reports said unlike the past, the followers voted for different parties on different seats. The naam charcha or prayer meetings organised by them were also kept low-profile, but the murder seems to have given them a chance to regroup, said a police official, who has been handling dera cases for a while now.

Government officials say besides open negotiations, backdoor talks are also on with the dera representatives and the hardliners to prevent escalation of tension.


DERA DEMANDS... 

  • Dera officials have announced they will not cremate Bittu’s body till the conspiracy behind the murder is unraveled
  • They want all FIRs against dera followers, mostly in sacrilege incidents or law and order cases, be withdrawn immediately

Anger over sacrilege simmering: Sukhbir

Amritsar: Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal believed that the killing of dera premi in Nabha jail was the outcome of Sikh sentiments against sacrilege instances. He said, "Sikh emotions ran high due to sacrilege incidents that prompted two Nabha jail inmates to kill the dera premi facing trial in the 2015 Bargari desecration case. The matter needs to be thoroughly probed." He was in the city for the bhog of path initiated by his family at the Golden Temple. TNS


Tight security at accused’s house

Fatehgarh Sahib: The security has been strengthened outside the Bhagrana village residence of Maninder Singh, one of the accused in the Nabha jail murder of Dera Sach Sauda follower Mohinder Pal Bittu. Besides, the police have also been deployed at naam charcha ghars of Dera Sacha Sauda in the district so that no untoward incident takes place.  SSP Amneet Kondal said that police were on high alert. “All police personnel, even those working in offices, have been deputed in the field. We are not taking any chances.” The SSP said to protect the house and family of Maninder Singh, police personnel had been deputed in Bhagrana village. “Naam charcha ghars have also been provided security. So far, no untoward incident has been reported,” she added. OC

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