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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 20, 2007
Dera families begin fleeing Punjab fearing Sikh backlash
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Dera families begin fleeing Punjab fearing Sikh backlash

Families belonging to Dera Sacha Sauda sect have started fleeing their homes in Punjab fearing attacks in the wake of sectarian clashes that erupted on Monday over the alleged sacrilege by their leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Bathinda (Punjab), May 20 : Families belonging to Dera Sacha Sauda sect have started fleeing their homes in Punjab fearing attacks in the wake of sectarian clashes that erupted on Monday over the alleged sacrilege by their leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

An uneasy calm prevailed on Sunday in predominantly Sauda neighbourhoods here with dozens of families slipping away to escape possible clashes.

"This conflict between Dera Sacha Sauda followers and the rest of the Sikh community has caused everyone a lot of loss. Amid clashes and conflict, confusion and ambiguity prevail and that is why people are fleeing the area," said Sanjeev Kumar, shocked as he woke up to a deserted neighbourhood on Saturday.

Sauda followers accuse the State government of having an inherent bias against them.

"The situation is Bhatinda is tense, families are leaving Bhatinda in large numbers. The situation is volatile at the moment.

There is not much we can say about it, but families leaving Bhatinda is unfortunate," said Yogesh Batis, a resident of another Sauda-dominated neighbourhood elsewhere in the city.

Ram Raheem Singh on late Saturday night issued a statement regretting the incidents of the last few days, including the publication of the advertisement in which he appeared dressed up as Guru Gobind Singh, the revered 17th century Sikh guru, that led to the tension.

However, his 'regret' has not pacified the Sikh leaders who are meeting this evening to chalk out their future strategy.ore than 50 people have been injured so far in the clashes.

Schools and colleges were closed on Thursday and Friday in many parts of Punjab.

The Sauda sect has tens of thousands of followers, and it claims that it is a social organisation that believes in the oneness of god and does not adhere to a particular faith, though its leader wears a turban and has a long beard in the Sikh style.

ANI

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