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Sikh radicals, former terrorists camping in Delhi for DSGMC polls

Sikh radical leaders can’t stay away from the gurdwara politics. A number of them who once actively participated in the pro-Khalistan movement have reached Delhi to support “own men” contesting the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) polls scheduled for February 26.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2017 20:14 IST
Gurpreet Nibber
Bangla Sahib Gurdwara in New Delhi.
Bangla Sahib Gurdwara in New Delhi.(HT File Photo/Nipun Prabhakar)

Sikh radical leaders can’t stay away from the gurdwara politics. A number of them who once actively participated in the pro-Khalistan movement have reached Delhi to support “own men” contesting the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) polls scheduled for February 26.

Wassan Singh Zafarwal, 64, a former chief of Khalistan Commando Force, is camping in Delhi for past three days to garner support for the candidates fielded by Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi) led by former DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna. “I am meeting Sikh families in Delhi, who have a soft corner for me, to persuade them to vote for Sarna’s candidates,” said Zafarwal, who currently is associated with the United Akali Dal.

Also read |Badals in backdrop, GK is SAD face for Delhi gurdwara polls

“Given the present circumstances when a series of incidents of Sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib took place in Punjab during Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) led government, and the party took support of Dera Sacha Sauda during the state polls on February 4, I think Sarna is a better option for us to support,” he said, adding that a number of his companions will be camping in Delhi till the polls.

Also read |What’s at stake in DSGMC? Religious clout, a moneyed organisation, and much more

How his presence will change the poll results, only the time will tell, but his presence is a morale booster for Sarna who lost out to SAD (Badal) in the gurdwara polls in 2013.

Mohkam Singh 57, an associate of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, has also been camping in Delhi to support Sarna’s candidates. Four years ago, Mohkam Singh had supported SAD (Badal) candidates. “There is anger among the Sikhs due to sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. So, I decided to support Sarna this time, because there is none other than Sarna who can defeat Badals,” he said.

Paramjit Singh Sarna told HT that radical leaders’ presence will improve his poll prospects. “In the last (DSGMC) elections in 2013, I made the mistake of not taking their support, and lost. I don’t want to take any chance this time,” said Sarna.

“Every vote and every person matters in the polls,” said Sarna, the lesson he apparently learnt the hard way. Sarna remained DSGMC president for mover 10 years till 2013.

FORMER JATHEDAR FIELDS 11 CANDIDATES

Former Akal Takht jathedar Ranjit Singh, 62, who underwent imprisonment for murder of Nirankari sect head Gurbachan Singh in 1980 and became jathedar of Akal Takht in 1996 (till 1999) after undergoing the jail term, has fielded 11 candidates in the DSGMC polls.

Ranjit Singh, who in the past had been supporting Sarnas, said this time he decided to test his might by fielding own candidates.

Ranjit Singh, known as Singh Saab in the religious circles, told HT that all his efforts to form a third front with the support of Aam Aadmi Party’s frontal organisation Panthic Sewa Dal (PSD) failed because there was no response from them.

“Had PSD supported me, things would have been different,” he said. “I know every bit of Delhi, and the Sikhs living here. I lived here during my childhood days. The candidates fielded by me, will change the pollscape of gurdwara politics in Delhi,” he said.