More than 2,000 persons, who were expected to take part in the Sarbat Khalsa (Sikh congregation) in Talwandi Sabo on November 10, were taken into preventive detention by police across the state in the past few days.
It was subsequent to the decision by the state government to ban the congregation.
Also, the radicals who were to lead the congregation, including Dhian Singh Mand, Baljit Singh Daduwal and Mohkam Singh, who were announced head priests in the last year’s Sarbat Khalsa and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann have gone into hiding to avoid arrest.
Panj Pyaras and leaders of the Dal Khalsa, who decided to support the congregation till last month, have also left their homes to undisclosed places to avoid arrests.
“I don’t know where Mann Saab is? He is changing locations to avoid arrest,” said Mann’s close aide. He said police was acting on behalf of the state government, which don’t want us to raise our voice. He added that the Sarbat Khalsa was to discuss important issues concerning the Sikhs panth such as appointment of jathedars of Takhts and functioning of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). “Why’s government wary of us?” he asked.
Daduwal’s aide apprehended that police might have arrested him, because his whereabouts were not known. Dal Khalsa’s Harpal Singh Cheema questioning the ban and said attempts were made by the government “to create bogey of unrest to reap political dividends”.
BADUNGAR PLAYS PACIFIER
Trying to pacify the hardliners, newly appointed president of the SGPC Kirpal Singh Badungar told HT that his motive was to bring uniformity in practices and principles of the Sikh panth.
O Stir the Akali set-up in the run-up to assembly polls
O Bring functioning of Akali Dal-controlled SGPC and its appointed jathedars in poor light
O Reach out to dormant radical elements in Punjab and abroad
O Fear that law and order situation may go out of hand
O Don’t want to allow radical elements to expand wings as it may disturb panthic base of the Akalis
O Akalis apprehend any decision or announcement at the congregation could bring bad name to them