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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 29, 2007
Dera Sacha Sauda sect followers seek refuge under Sikh body
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Dera Sacha Sauda sect followers seek refuge under Sikh body

Followers of a Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) sect sought refuge under a Sikh body today to avoid getting caught in ongoing sectarian clashes.

Amritsar, May 29 : Followers of a Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) sect sought refuge under a Sikh body today to avoid getting caught in ongoing sectarian clashes.

A delegation of 21 followers of the DSS arrived at the office of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the top management body of Sikh shrines, here to put across their apprehensions to its officials.

As many as 2000 followers have sought protection from the raging Sikh community, who have demanded the eviction of DSS followers from camps in Punjab.

They said that the dubious acts of DSS chief Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh were true.

"We are scared because we already have a fight going on with Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh. If the Sikh community thinks we are united, just because we follow the same faith, they might think we are in the wrong too and could attack us," said Mukhtiar Singh, the leader of the DSS delegation.

Singh also said their community wanted to live in harmony with the Sikhs and avoid any kind of a conflict.

"It is our fervent wish that we don't have any fight with the Sikh community and that both are able to live in peace and harmony without any conflict," added Singh.

The SGPC, on its part, said it will do everything to protect the followers of Ram Raheem Singh.

"They have come to us and have met with the Pradhan (chief). They will now meet the Jathedar (top Sikh priest). Whatever security they want will be given to them," said Jaswinder Singh, SGPC lawyer.

Meanwhile, Akal Takht, the top religious body of Sikhs, is meeting here today to take a decision on the apology tendered by DSS sect.

Social Activist Swami Agnivesh and other religious leaders are expected to meet Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to convey the letter of apology from Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh.

The Dera sect on Sunday tendered an apology to defuse the situation, saying, "In the best interest of peace and tranquillity, the Dera Sacha Sauda tenders an apology to Guru Gobind Singh."

The apology came on the day the deadline given by Sikh clergy to the Dera sect to vacate its camps across Punjab ended.

Several Sikh organisations, however, have expressed dissatisfaction, pointing the apology should have been directed to the clergy and not to 17th century Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

However, the Dera apology has been welcomed across Punjab, especially the business community that incurred losses during a fortnight of shutdowns and riots.

There had been sectarian clashes and tension in the State since May 14 after the publication of advertisement of the Dera chief dressed as Guru Gobind Singh.

The Sikhs took offensive of it, terming it as "sacrilege". Skirmishes between rival groups flared into mob violence when the Akal Takht, the highest Sikh religious body, urged followers to boycott the sect.

Dera Sacha Sauda, which has thousands of followers, says 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.


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