Having narrowly escaped an assassination bid last Tuesday, firebrand Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale, 36, has now virtually served an ultimatum on the Badal government to unmask those behind the attack that is widely seen as fallout of his spat against Damdami Taksal chief Harnam Singh Dhumma, whom he had termed a ‘sarkari sant’ (government saint) in one of his Facebook posts. On Friday, Dhadrianwale spoke to HT assistant editor Chitleen K Sethi and dropped loaded hints on a possible Taksal hand behind the attack that left one of his fellow preachers dead. Excerpts:
Are you satisfied with the police investigation into the attack?
I’ve been told the police are raiding various places, rounding up suspects, and have arrested another four persons now. I don’t have any reason to distrust the police at this stage. However, it will depend on what they come up with in the end. The entire sangat (public) knows who is behind this attack. Everyone knows whom the cars (used in the attack) belong to.
You said that you will reveal the name of the mastermind, if the police do not. When will you do that?
I had earlier thought that I would give out the names; but then I was advised that it could lead to vitiating the atmosphere in the state. I do not want a fight within the Sikh community. However, by the 26th of this month, when the antim ardas (last prayers) for Baba Bhupinder Singhji (fellow preacher who was shot in the attack) will take place, the police should be able to get to the bottom of who is the mastermind and reveal the names to the public.
What if police probe does not lead to the same people?
In that case, we will sit with other jathebandis (Sikh organisations) and decide on the further course of action. We will hold protests and fight from the stage; but in a manner that does not harm the Sikh community.
Do you think the Damdami Taksal is behind the attack since you had a recent spat with its president Harnam Singh Dhumma?
Though the initial investigation of the police is pointing towards it being the handiwork of Dhumma’s men, it is difficult to believe that a mere spat can make someone do that. Those who came to kill me had hired sharpshooters. As for the spat, that happened over a difference of opinion on principles. I am a preacher propagating Sikhism; instead of appreciating what I am doing I was ridiculed. I reacted by saying that Dhumma is a ‘sarkari sant’ (government saint). Perhaps, they could not digest that.
You are in controversies a lot; why is that?
I don’t intend that. I speak the truth that is not liked by many. But it is my duty. My programmes, if you hear the complete lectures, not parts, are about social reformation. I do not divide the community or cause unrest.