Badal seeks Dera apology, Punjab bandh today
Meanwhile, the Akal Takht has urged Sikhs to observe restraint during the bandh, reports Pawan Sharma.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday joined Sikh religious leaders and organisations in demanding an apology from Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for "the biggest insult to Sikhs".
"The Dera head's act of copying the holy appearance of Guru Gobind Singh was the biggest insult to Sikhs. What stops him from apologising now?" said Badal a day ahead of the Punjab bandh called by the Akal Takht to protest against the "blasphemous" act.
Despite heavy security arrangements, tension was palpable in many parts of the state. Sikh community leaders and various organisations have appealed to the people to maintain peace.
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti urged Sikhs to observe restraint during the bandh and not display any weapons.
At its base in Sirsa, Haryana, the Dera said its expression of regret on Saturday, rejected by Sikh organisations and also the chief minister, had not been understood. "It is sad... people are playing with words," said Dera spokesman Dr Aditya Arora. The Dera appealed to the president and the prime minister to intervene and resolve the crisis.
The police have thrown a three-tier security ring around the Dera branches in Punjab, including the biggest one at Salabatpura in Bathinda district.
Speaking after a meeting convened to discuss the future course of action, Damdami Taksal chief Harnam Singh denied reports that the Taksal had given a call for the creation of "suicide squads" to dismantle Dera branches in Punjab.
After bountiful rain in July, when the Safdarjung weather station recorded an excess of around 37% precipitation from the monthly normal, August is turning out to be inordinately dry in the national capital this year. The month in which the city generally receives the most rainfall -- average 247.7mm -- Delhi so far has only recorded only 27.1 mm of rainfall till August 18.
In an unprecedented move, the Raj Bhawan cancelled the swearing-in ceremony of the Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission chairperson and its members. It is for the first time that a swearing-in ceremony has been called off. The Jai Ram Thakur-led HP government had appointed currently a member of the HPPSC, Rachna Gupta, as its chairperson by way of notification issued late on Wednesday. The ceremony was cancelled after the central leadership raised a 'red flag'.
A Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) 'commander' from Pakistan succumbed to the injuries inflicted in the encounter with a police team after he snatched the rifle from a constable and opened fire during a weapon-recovery operation in Phallian Mandal area of Jammu district, officials said on Thursday. The deceased terrorist was identified as Mohammad Ali Hussain, alias Qasim, alias reportedly a commander of the LeT, of Pakistan, Jehangir.
The Jammu and Kashmir Waqf Board has imposed a ban on priests from collecting offerings from people in major shrines and mosques managed by the board. “We have put the ban into action…It was the demand of people. There were grievances by people. The ban is being enforced in every shrine,” said chairperson of J&K Waqf Board, Darakhshan Andrabi.
Three years after a 34-year-old man, who worked at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research as a sweeper, was murdered, a district court on Thursday acquitted all four accused, including the victim, Laxman wife. The prosecution had contended that Seema, the wife of the victim, Laxman, was conspiring to kill him as she was having an affair with one of the co-accused, Virender, alias Ajay, of Mauli Jagran, who was the couple's neighbour.