Sikh factions clash
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Sikh factions clash in Punjab over denigrating advertisement
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Sikh factions clash in Punjab over denigrating advertisement

Scores of people and policemen were injured when rival Sikh factions clashed for second consecutive day in Punjab on Tuesday.

Bhatinda/Amritsar, May 15 : Scores of people and policemen were injured when rival Sikh factions clashed for second consecutive day in Punjab on Tuesday.

Clashes began on Monday in Bhatinda after local newspapers carried an advertisement showing Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Raheem, head of Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS), a Sikh religious sect, in an attire akin to that of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth spiritual head of the Sikh community.

Reacting to protests over this, DSS activists burnt vehicles and pelted stones at policemen, alleging that they were acting on behalf of the rival factions.

"We have always promoted peace and harmony. These anti-social elements tried to jeopardize our faith. Till we get justice, till all those responsible behind this act are put behind bars, we will continue our agitation," said Harjinder Kumar, a member of the religious committee of DSS.

The followers of Ram Raheem also slammed police for inaction.

"Few of our people warned the police about few anti-social elements who were roaming around with naked swords in their hands. But police did nothing to stop them. We do not know who told them to ignore our requests. We have even seen photos in the newspaper that policemen were roaming freely with those carrying arms," said Ajay Chauhan, another DSS member.

DSS activists have alleged that their rivals have denigrated their sect by burning effigies of Ram Raheem.

The clashes have spread to several major cities in the state.

In Amritsar, followers of the Damdami Taksal (Bhindranwala) and other Sikh organizations set effigies of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ablaze in protest against the ad.

The protesters also marched through the streets with placards and unsheathed swords. The march commenced from the Hall Gate and concluded at the Akal Takht Sahib.Gunam Singh, a follower, said that if the government failed to take action against Rahim Singh, the Damdami Taksal (Bhindranwala) activists would take the law into their own hands and punish him.Charanjit Singh, another follower, said Gurmeet Singh Ram Raheem Singh had not only hurt the sentiments of Sikhs, but was also key perpetrator of violence in Punjab and other parts of India. The Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has taken serious note of the incident, but appealed to the protesters to exercise restraint.

ANI

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