Police probing Tuesday’s assassination bid on preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale, 36, pointed towards the possible involvement of supporters of the Damdami Taksal, a fundamentalist Sikh seminary based at Chowk Mehta. The attack comes in the wake of a spat between Dhadrianwale and Taksal head Harnam Singh Dhumma.
Police sources said one of the vehicles used in the crime held clues that linked the crime to the Taksal. They said there would be clarity after the interrogation of five arrested accused for the crime.
Dhadrianwale, who often uses his discourses to target individuals, has no dearth of enemies but the latest controversy was played out on his Facebook page and that of the Taksal. He had returned to Punjab from a preaching tour of the US earlier this month. During one of his diwan’s (congregations) he called Dhumma a “sarkari sant (government agent)”. Dhumma had earlier apparently objected to the way in which Dhadrianwale tied his turban to which the latter said that Dhumma had in fact “tarnished” the dastar (turban) given to him by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the former head of the Taksal.
Reacting to the “disrespect” shown by Dhadrianwale to Dhumma, Taksal supporters gave a point-wise reply to him on their Facebook page, questioning his behaviour as a preacher.
On May 11, Dhadrianwale clarified that whatever he said was against Dhumma as a person and not against the Taksal. Seeing the spat flare up, the Sant Samaj and All India Sikh Students Federation offered to meet both of them.
Based at Gurdwara Parmeshar Dwar Sahib on the Patiala-Sangur highway, Dhadrianwale rose to fame following his criticism of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. In September, Dhadrianwale, among others, had revolted against the Akal Takht jathedars for “accepting” the apology of the Sirsa Dera head. Later at a diwan, Dhadrianwale alleged that he had received a threat from one of the five jathedars.
He along with other Sikh preachers was at the forefront of the protest in Kotkapura against the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari in Faridkot last year. But he did not participate in the Sarbat Khalsa organised by radical Sikh leaders in Amritsar in November after the sacrilege incidents.
Some years ago, Dhadrianwale had run into controversy after a video showing him wearing a kalgi (plume), and sitting on a high seat blessing Sikhs bowing before him went viral on the internet. His flamboyance as a Sikh preacher also invites criticism on social media.
Though his style of discourse and kirtan is popular with his followers, especially the youth online, he has been accused of singing “kachi baani” (distorted Gurbaani). He has also been getting into tiffs with Punjabi singers, including Babbu Mann over lyrics and Gurdas Maan over the latter’s religious beliefs.