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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 22, 2007
Sikhs clash with police, burnt Dera chiefs effigies during shutdown
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Sikhs clash with police, burnt Dera chiefs effigies during shutdown

Enraged Sikhs today clashed with police in Punjab, as they were protesting against Dera Sacha Sauda.

Ambala/Amritsar/Srinagar, May 22 : Enraged Sikhs today clashed with police in Punjab, as they were protesting against Dera Sacha Sauda.

Sikhs also burnt effigies of Dera Sacha Sauda sect's chief Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh.

Police baton-charged protesting men in Ambala, who demanded the arrest of Dera's chief.

The clashes began last week when Dera's chief dressed up as Guru Gobind Singh, the revered 17th century Sikh guru.

Shops, businesses and schools were closed across neighbouring Punjab, where Sikhs had called for a shutdown to mark their protest.

In Srinagar, Sikhs got an unusual support from the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), who demanded a strict action against the Dera Sacha Sauda.

Young men shouted slogans, and burnt effigies of Ram Raheem Singh.

"We people are in support of the Sikhs protesting against such crimes committed against a religion. Those behind these acts should be punished," Zaffer Butt, a leader of APHC said.

In Amritsar, hard-line Sikhs took out rallies and marches to register their protest.

"His acts have hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community and they are enraged. He should be arrested immediately," said Bhai Mohkam Singh, a hard line Sikh leader.

Thousands of armed police guarded roads to prevent any untoward incident following last week's clashes in which at least one person had died and 50 were injured.

Residents of Bhatinda felt that the Dera chief needed to apologise for his actions and put a stop to all this violence.

"As far as the head of the sect is concerned, he should apologise. An apology from him can change the current atmosphere in the country," said Sukhdev Singh, a local resident.

Skirmishes between rival groups flared into mob violence on Thursday when the Sikh religion's highest spiritual body, the Akal Takht, urged Sikhs to boycott the sect.

Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh has denied any wrongdoing, even as Sikh leaders have demanded an apology from him.

In some towns, Sikhs gathered for protest marches, but police quickly dispersed them.

The Dera sect, which has tens of thousands of followers, says it is a social organisation that believes in the oneness of God and does not adhere to a particular faith, although its leader wears a turban and has a long beard in the Sikh style.


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