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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 25, 2007
Several Punjab towns witness police flag march
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Dera Sacha Sauda

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Several Punjab towns witness police flag march

Police on Friday staged a flag march here as the tension between the Sikhs and the followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda refuses to die down.

Bhatinda, May 25 : Police on Friday staged a flag march here as the tension between the Sikhs and the followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda refuses to die down.

With the deadline announced by Sikhs to close down its camps drawing near, there is apprehension that the tension could further worsen.

"Since the tension continues to prevail under such circumstances, we felt confidence building measures should be implemented in Bhatinda. Through our gathering and flag march here today, we wanted to show that the administration is ready to deal with any kind of problem," said Naunihal Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police of Bhatinda.

In some towns, Sikhs gathered for protest marches but police quickly dispersed them. Authorities forbade meetings of more than five people on Tuesday to avert possible violence.

Sikhs came out on the streets and burnt effigies of the sect leader in the cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana and Khanna in Punjab.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has advanced to May 27 the hearing of a petition seeking protection to the properties of the Dera Sacha Sauda and its followers all across the country in view of an ultimatum issued by the Akal Takht.

A vacation Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and D K Jain, which had earlier fixed the hearing for June 4, passed the present order subsequently when it was told that the ultimatum given by the Akal Takht for the closure of the Dera Sacha and its units would expire on May 27 and the petition should be heard at least on the same day.

The petition said there were 160 branches of Deras spread over 13 states, having a following of about 3 crore people.

On May 20, the Akal Takht served an ultimatum to the Punjab Government to close down all the Dera camps in the State by May 27.

On Thursday, Badal held an emergency meeting of his party Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLAs and MPs on the differences with the Dera Sacha Sauda.

Badal has assured the Dera sect of full protection.

After the meeting, Badal said that nobody will be allowed to harm the Deras and peace will be maintained at all cost in the State.

A sectarian row was sparked off last week after the publication of an advertisement in which Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh was shown in a dress similar to that of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs.

The Sikh body has since been demanding that the Dera shut all of its camps in Punjab.

Gurmeet Singh has expressed regret, but Sikh leaders are not satisfied and want a public apology, which he has refused to give so far.

Skirmishes between rival groups flared into mob violence last week when the Akal Takht urged Sikhs to boycott the Dera Sacha Sauda sect.

One person was killed and over 50 were injured in sectarian clashes in different cities, mainly in Punjab, Haryana and Jammu.


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