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Namdhari protesters lock horns with cops

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Ludhiana, August 07, 2014
First Published: 12:57 IST(7/8/2014) | Last Updated: 13:06 IST(7/8/2014)

High drama was witnessed outside the mini secretariat when the Namdhari faction supporting Thakur Dalip Singh, which is observing a chain hunger strike, was initially stopped by the police from getting water from the well at the Namdharis’ war memorial here on Wednesday. Later, protesters were allowed to have water from the well.

The first batch, which had been on a hunger strike since August 1, was being replaced by the second one comprising seven Amritdhari Namdharis. The latter wanted to have water from the well at the Kooka Memorial Centre near Fieldganj.

As per the sect’s rituals, Amritdhari Namdharis either consume water from wells on the premises of gurdwaras or from water bodies with running water. It was only after the intervention of the district administration and the police commissionerate, followed by deliberations with office-bearers of the Namdhari Darbar, that members of the protesting faction were allowed to get water from the well, escorted by a group of cops.

Soon after learning that a group of Namdharis sitting outside the mini secretariat were planning to get water for the second batch, dozens of cops were deployed at the spot, followed by the visit of two senior police officers who prohibited the faction from going to the memorial. Additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP, special) Harmohan Singh and ADCP (crime) Manjit Singh Dhesi said they took this decision to prevent a law and order problem.

Sources said a request to stop protesting Namdharis from entering the memorial was given by the Namdhari Darbar at Bhaini Sahib (Ludhiana).

The action from the police commissionerate invited criticism from the Namdhari faction as Navtej Singh, a senior sect member and supporter of Thakur Dalip Singh. Arguing with the cops, he said, “How can half-a-dozen individuals carrying vessels for water create a law and order problem? We just want to get water from the sacred well for the seven members of our group who will be sitting on a chain hunger strike for the next five days.”

He said that by doing so, the executive of the Namdhari Darbar headed by Thakur Udai Singh had proved that it was on their behest that Thakur Dalip Singh’s supporters were being stopped from entering gurdwaras at Bhaini Sahib and other places.

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