Tensions escalate as 1,500 followers reach Dera Salabatpura after leader's murder

Dera followers stage protests, demand arrest of the accused

Tensions escalate as 1,500 followers reach Dera Salabatpura after leader's murder

The followers are adamant that they would not cremate Lal's body till the accused are arrested by the police. Tribune photo.

Sukhmeet Bhasin
Tribune News Service
Bathinda, November 22

Tensions escalated as around 1,500 Dera Sacha Sauda followers gathered at Salabatpura, the biggest dera and state headquarters of the Sirsa-based sect in Punjab, after the murder of prominent member Manohar Lal at Bhagta Bhaika on Friday.

Various wings of the dera have also taken charge of providing langar to them.

The followers are adamant that they would not cremate Lal's body till the accused are arrested by the police.

On Saturday, after conducting a post-mortem, dera followers took the body to their Salabatpura Dera from the civil hospital. The district administration tried to pacify the followers and even held a meeting with 45 members committee of the dera. SSP Bhupinder Singh Virk eventually left as the talks failed to reach any conclusion.

The followers have also blocked the Barnala-Bhagta main road and started an indefinite protest keeping the body of the deceased in a freezer at the protest site.

Dera Sacha Sauda Sirsa senior vice chairman Jagjit Singh, Political wing members Baljinder Singh, Balraj Singh, Paramjit Singh, Avtar Singh, Ravi Kumar and others were seen present at the protest.

Sensing a situation going out of hand in case of a standoff between dera and district administration, sources said that police has demanded a list of weapon licenses of the dera followers.

Moreover, Sukha Gill Lamme group which had taken responsibility for the killing of a dera member has posted another post on Facebook. In the post, he has stated that "Let those who are holding a dharna in Salabatpura also tell what great deed he had done that they are holding dharma. He did not one but four sacrilege. We are not against dera followers or any religion, our enemy is the one who is against the Sikh community and who disrespects our Guru. We will do the same with anyone who will do this if Guru Sahib gives me another chance, I will do it again".

Police deployment has also been intensified in the region as Dera Sacha Sauda has a huge presence in the region and the state headquarters of the Dera Sacha Sauda is also located at Salabatpura in Rampura area.

In August 2015, many incidents of violence were reported in the region when the CBI court convicted dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

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