Sarabjit Pandher

CHANDIGARH: The solution to the controversy surrounding activities of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, seemed to be within sight as the latter’s secretariat has sent a re-worded letter of apology, this time addressed to the Khalsa Panth, for his “unintentional actions” that had enraged the Sikh community since the middle of last month.

According to sources, the “amended” apology reached the president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Paramjit Singh Sarna, who is also the convenor of the Khalsa Action Committee, a conglomerate of religious, radical and hardline Sikh organisations, who have been agitating for punitive action against the Dera chief.

Mr. Sarna is said to have handed over the letter to the president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Avtar Singh Makkar.

As reports last came in, leaders of various Sikh organisations began to converge at Mohali for a meeting to take stock of the situation. Before the meeting, Mr. Sarna is said to have expressed optimism that a solution to the crisis was within sight and the media should expect a “favourable” announcement soon.

The various organisations including the apex clergy of the Sikh community had charged the Dera chief that while presiding over a congregation of his sect in Salabatpura village of Bathinda district in May he had attempted to imitate Guru Gobind Singh’s attire and rituals of baptism.

Amid major protests the apex temporal seat, the Akal Takht, had ordered the complete boycott of those associated with the sect and called for the closure of all premises in the State. Ever since, the regional media has reported clashes between supporters of rival groups, especially in remote rural areas of the south-western districts of the State.

Arrest warrants

A court in Bathinda has issued arrest warrants against the Dera chief for hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikh community. The orders were passed by duty magistrate K.L. Kitchi, while disposing of a petition by the Punjab Police, which had registered a case under Section 295-A of the IPC on May 20.

In their plea the police accepted to have made efforts to arrest the Dera chief at his headquarters in Sirsa town of Haryana, but their attempts were unsuccessful due to resistance by the large number of “Premis” (followers) present there.

Leader of the Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal charged the Akali-BJP government with ‘victimising’ the Dera’s followers as they had voted for the Congress.

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