The five Sikh high priests of the Akal Takth found the apology tendered by the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda "half-hearted" and inadequate on Wednesday. They will call a mammoth Panthic gathering in Ratiya, Haryana, on July 11 to put pressure on the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government to arrest Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
The Sikh clerics were "astonished" to find the "apology" come as a press release signed by a Dera spokesperson on behalf of its chief.
The development could be described as a serious setback for Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Paramjit Singh Sarna and former Akal Takht Jathedar Jasbir Singh Rode, who had guided the Dera functionaries in drafting the "apology". An aide of former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Sarna had gone public seeking a reward for his personal efforts in getting the "apology" revised. It may be mentioned here that the clergy had rejected a similar "half-hearted Dera apology", which was sent through then peace emissary Swami Agnivesh on May 29.
Following a marathon meeting at the Akal Takht secretariat, the five high priests issued separate verdicts to first describe the "apology" as half-hearted and then to criticise the Haryana government for providing 'Z' plus security to one accused of heinous crimes like murder and rape.
"In the press release, the Dera chief has neither made a confession of his blunders in the past, nor any commitment against repeating them," they said. The clergy declared a final decision would be made during the coming days in accordance with Sikh sentiments across the globe.
The high priests urged the community to continue to boycott the Dera and its followers and to keep up the peaceful stir till the last of the Dera branches are uprooted in Punjab, as appealed in the previous Gurmatas.
The clergy also took a serious note of the Haryana government's move of registering "false" cases against Sikhs and of providing 'Z' plus security to the Dera chief notwithstanding the fact that he is wanted for murder and rape. Issuing an appeal to Haryana Sikhs to unite against the state repression, they gave a call for a Panthic gathering on July 11 to put pressure on the Haryana government to arrest the Dera chief at the earliest.