Dera Sacha Sauda followers and Sikh activists at odds over ‘satsang’ in Bathinda

Dera Sacha Sauda followers and Sikh activists at odds over 'satsang' in Bathinda
Dera Sacha Sauda followers and Sikh activists at odds over 'satsang' in Bathinda

A virtual ‘satsang’ of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who is out on a 40-day parole, at the Salabatpura dera in Bathinda, sparked tension among Sikh activists and Dera Sacha Sauda followers today. During his journey to Salabatpura, Sikh leader Amrik Singh Ajnala was stopped by the police at Kanhaiya Chowk in Bathinda. After an argument with Bathinda SSP J Elanchezhian, Ajnala alleged that those accused of sacrilege were provided with massive security for the ‘satsang’ (religious gathering).

The BJP governments in Haryana and at the Center are repeatedly granting parole to the dera head. In addition, the Bhagwant Mann government facilitates the ‘satsang’ of the dera chief, who has vitiated Punjab’s peace,” said Ajnala.

In Jalal village, near Salabatpura dera, SAD (Amritsar) and other Sikh outfits blocked the Bajakhana-Barnala highway. After detaining the protesters and taking them in a bus to an undisclosed location, the police cleared the road. As well as protesting against the state and central governments, the protesters also chanted anti-police slogans. Various Sikh organisations have been sitting on a ‘dharna’ on the Bathinda-Amritsar National Highway near Behbal Kalan village for more than a year, demanding justice for the sacrilege and police firing incidents at Behbal Kalan, Kotkapura, Jawahar Singh Wala and Bargari. Dera followers were being transported to Salabatpura by several vehicles on Sunday, when the protesters blocked their way.

Dera followers reached Salabatpura in large numbers despite protests, and 24 large screens were installed inside the ‘pandal’ (temporary shed) as Ram Rahim virtually addressed them from Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh. In order to ensure security, 400 police officers were deployed outside the dera under the supervision of two SPs. According to officials, four police teams were on standby.

During a ceremony at the Salabatpura dera, the sect’s Punjab headquarters and second largest unit after Sirsa (Haryana), Ram Rahim reportedly imitated Guru Gobind Singh by dressing like him in May 2007. The two sides have occasionally erupted in tension since then.