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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 21, 2007
Punjab CM demands apology from Dera chief
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Punjab CM demands apology from Dera chief

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today demanded an apology from Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Ram Raheem for hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community by allegedly impersonating as Sikhs tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

Chandigarh/Bhatinda/New Delhi, May 21 : Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today demanded an apology from Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Ram Raheem for hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community by allegedly impersonating as Sikh's tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh today, Badal said, "If one has committed a big crime then there is nothing wrong in saying sorry. I don't think there is anything wrong in that. He (Dera chief) should see the enormity of the crime he has committed. I want that all steps should be taken to restore peace and harmony in the State."

Badal's demand for an apology from the Dera chief came a day after supreme body of the Sikh, Akal Takht, issued an edict that demanded apology from the sect's chief and the closure of all the deras run by the sect.

The Dera chief has already rejected Takht's twin demand and said that it is the responsibility of the State Government to provide security to him.

A spokesperson of the Dera had also warned that they would take 'legal measures if the State government acts in a 'biased' and 'unconstitutional' manner.

One person was killed and dozens injured in several days of clashes between Sikhs and followers of Dera Sacha Sauda sect, which combines social work with spirituality.

The Sikh leaders have called for a daylong shutdown on Tuesday across the state to protest against the Dera chief's act.

Badal today appealed for peace during the strike, and said, "I request all the political parties especially the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP to follow restraint. Hooliganism will not be tolerated. Punjab government is committed to peace."

In Bhatinda, where the violence first erupted, central reserve police forces are patrolling the camps of the sect to prevent any untoward incident.

"We are ready to tackle any situation where law and order are compromised with. We are in contact with the administration," said Rajiv Ahir, Commandant of Border Security Force in Bhatinda.

Many Dera supporters have been evacuated under police protection.

"We are following the path of peace as shown by our leader. It is our main aim -- to maintain peace and help people. It's our appeal to everyone to shun violence," said Ramesh, a Dera follower.

The clashes began last week after the controversial leader of Dera Sacha Sauda, dressed up as Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh appeared in newspaper advertisements.

The Sikhs reacted angrily to it and skirmishes between the rival groups flared into mob violence last Thursday when the Sikh religion's highest spiritual body, the Akal Takht, asked Sikhs to boycott the sect.

Meanwhile, an all-religious meeting in New Delhi today, decided to send a team of top leaders of the religious communities under Swami Agnivesh to persuade Dera chief Baba ram Raheem to tender a public apology.

However, the delegation consisting of Mohammad illyasi (Muslim leader), Father Philip (Christian), Muni Lokesh (Jain ), Naval Kishore (Vishva Hindu Parishad, will have no representation from the Sikh community.

ANI

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