They might be big vote banks for political parties but a number of radical Sikh organisations have openly come out against political parties in Punjab pampering certain sects to gain votes.
Reminding the political parties, especially the ruling Akali Dal and the opposition Congress, about edicts against these sects by the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion, the radical Sikh bodies on Tuesday demanded that parties stay away from these sects.
The Sikh bodies opposing the sects include Damdami Taksal, Dal Khalsa, Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) and Akal Federation.
The groups are mainly opposing sects like the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda headed by Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, Divya Jyoti Sangathan headed by Ashutosh, Nirankaris, Radhasoamis and other smaller sects.
"These pseudo-sects are primarily anti-Sikh and political parties like the Congress are seeking their support," Dal Khalsa leader Kanwarpal Singh said.
"The continuing logistic support and patronisation of the Dera and its pseudo-saint by the Congress Party has caused pain and anguish to the devout in Punjab. The edict issued against Nirankaris (June 1978) and the Dera and others in May 2007 by the Akal Takht is relevant and we expect from the Akali Dal that it will respect it in letter and spirit even during election period," Dal Khalsa president Harcharanjit Singh told a rally of these groups in Amritsar Monday.
The rally was also attended by Akal Takht chief Gurbachan Singh.
"We want to live in cordial atmosphere but the biggest obstacle is the state's malafide intention and divisive policies towards Sikhs," said KAC convener Mohkam Singh.
Damdami Taksal head Baba Harnam Singh said that Sikhs were passing through a critical phase and need to be united against these sects.
Baisakhi day, April 13, 1978, saw a violent clash between Sikhs and Nirankari sect members near Amritsar leading to the death of 13 people. The incident subsequently led to a prolonged period of terrorism (1981-1995) in Punjab in which nearly 25,000 lives were lost.