Comedian Kiku Sharda’s arrest for mimicking Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has brought back memories of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda head imitating the 10th Sikh Guru at a public function in Punjab in 2007, hurting sentiments of the Sikh community.
The two incidents are similar with politics forming the backdrop of the sequence of events. The dress controversy erupted at a time when the sect had lent support to the Congress in the Malwa region of Punjab, thus antagonising the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) during the 2007 assembly polls. The SAD eventually, to the misfortune of the sect, rode to power.
The registration of a criminal case against Sharda in Haryana and his subsequent arrest has subtle political undertones. The sect seems to enjoy the patronage of the ruling BJP in the state after it had lent its support in the 2014 assembly elections. Even the manner in which the police acted — by first arresting Kiku from Mumbai and then facilitating his bail plea — stinks of political overtones.
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, however, was quick to dismiss such insinuations saying it was a law-and-order issue and no one would be unnecessarily harassed. It seems that the Kaithal police acted under pressure from the Dera followers. It made a mess by first seeking and getting Sharda’s judicial custody and later making a somersault in the court to facilitate his bail.
The question though remains whether the sect will ask its followers to withdraw the two complaints filed against Sharda. Uday Singh and Laxman Arora, who are complainants in the two cases, respectively, are still non-committal on withdrawing the complaints.
Dera spokesperson Pawan Insan said, “The dera did not ask its followers to get a case registered against Sharda. Guruji has no complaints against Kiku and we are trying to get in touch with our followers who lodged the complaints.”