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Dera chief grilled by Punjab police

chandigarh Updated: Aug 17, 2007 17:30 IST

Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Friday questioned by Punjab Police in connection with a case filed against him for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs.

A police team from Bhatinda, comprising 24 officials led by Deputy Superintendent Surinder Pal Singh, quizzed him inside the sect's headquarters at Sirsa in Haryana.

Singh was interrogated regarding all aspects of the case, Bathinda police chief Naunihal Singh said.

The questioning lasted over two hours but remained inconclusive.

"The interrogation was done in a peaceful manner. The Dera head's replies to the questions posed by the police were satisfactory," Singh said on phone.

The Dera chief would be questioned again on August 24 as he had sought another date to answer some questions.

A case was registered against the sect's controversial head in May following a complaint by a Bathinda resident, who accused Singh of hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs by donning the attire of the tenth Sikh guru.

Singh, already under the CBI's scanner for allegedly raping a disciple and murdering a journalist and a Dera manager about five years ago, joined the investigations on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Meanwhile, the High Court on Friday adjourned till Monday the hearing of Singh's bail plea in connection with the murder and rape cases.
Justice Surya Kant adjourned the hearing following a request by Singh's counsel SK Garg on the ground that he had to go out of station on Friday.

Police also possess arrest warrants for the Dera chief's son-in-law, Gurbaz Singh who is the senior vice president of the sect, and seven others in a case of arson.

Others against whom police have secured arrest warrants are advocate Sampooran Singh, Ram Singh, chief of the Dera's political wing, Jagjit Singh, Gure Lal, Satpal Singh, Gurdev Singh and Jagjit Singh (all members of different committees of the Dera).

The warrants were secured in connection with a case of arson at Bathinda on May 14 and 15 in which the Dera's followers allegedly damaged public property.
Sources said Gurbaz Singh sneaked out of the Dera before the arrival of the police team.

Police were deployed in large numbers on roads leading to the Dera's headquarters to prevent any untoward incident.

Several followers of the sect were present inside and outside the Dera's headquarters.

An official of Haryana Police accompanied the Punjab Police team during the questioning of the sect's head.