A preventive-arrest spree is on against radical leaders who pushed Punjab into a deeper crisis at their Sarbat Khalsa (Sikh congregation); and on Thursday, nine, including Gurdeep Singh of the United Akali Dal (UAD), were caught.
Apprehending trouble at Takht Damdama Sahib after Sarbat Khalsa made religious preacher Baljit Singh Daduwal its high priest, police threw a heavy cover around the shrine in Bathinda district. Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rajeshwar Singh Sidhu reviewed the arrangements.
Police claimed Gurdeep Singh had been arrested under Sections 107 (security for keeping peace) and 151 (arrest to prevent cognizable offences) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), while the radical leader claimed he had courted arrest at Gurdwara Guru Singh Sabha here. He will be in judicial custody till November 25. For more than 30 minutes, Sikh radicals, including former Damdama Sahib high priest Balwant Singh Nandgarh and Baba Hardeep Singh, blocked traffic on the Mall Road here to oppose the arrest.
Sikh preacher Pardeep Singh Chandpura and supporters Baldev Singh, Najar Singh, Sant Singh, Bhupinder Singh and Satpal Singh, all from Chandpur village, are also under preventive custody. Chandpura was expected to meet the other Sikh radicals at Damdama Sahib.
Rampura Sadar station house officer (SHO) said the accused had delivered provocative speeches at Chauke village where an incident of desecration of the Sikh holy book had been reported on Wednesday. UAD district president Chamkaur Singh Bhairupa and his supporter Angrej Singh were taken into preventive custody at Phul. They are yet to be produced before court.
Bhairupa was arrested after attending the Damdama Sahib meeting of Sikh preachers where the demand for installing Daduwal as Damdama Sahib high priest was raised.