Blaming misunderstandings created by vested interests for the violent standoff between his followers and Sikhs, the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda chief has said he never tendered an apology to Akal Takht, the temporal body of Sikhs, but had only sought "peace talks".
"One 100 per cent, No. There is no dispute between Sikhs and us. They are not against us and do not hate me. There are lots of Sikhs here," Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim said referring to thousands of people who congregated yesterday to attend a 'Satsang' (spiritual discourse) at the sect's headquarters here.
The 64-year-old Dera chief, who is facing charges of murder and sexual exploitation of sadhvis, said the question of a Dera-Sikh standoff does not arise at all and blamed some selfish people for the "misunderstanding" between his followers and the Sikhs.
"Those who feel threatened by our increasing numbers and surging crowds could be the ones behind this problem. Otherwise there is no issue between the Dera and the Sikhs or any other religion. All are the children of God and we love everyone," he said.
Referring to reports that he had sought apology for hurting sentiments of Sikhs, he said, "I never tendered any apology to Akal Takht. What I asked for was peace talks."
The Dera chief's comments assume significance as the sect, which has had strained ties with the Akalis, can influence the result in Lok Sabha seats of Bhatinda, Ferozpur Faridkot, Patiala, Sangrur and even Ludhiana in Punjab and Sirsa (reserved) in Haryana.