Dera followers go on rampage, 50 people injured
Followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda protesting against alleged insult to their head on Tuesday clashed with police in Punjab and Akalis in Rajasthan, leaving at least 50 injured. Most of the injured were policemen.
They, however, called off their protest after authorities in Punjab assured action would be taken against those who burnt the effigy of Dera head Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Raheem on Monday, sparking clashes between Dera supporters and activists of various Sikh organisations.
The Dera followers on Tuesday went on the rampage in Bhatinda, injuring 20 people and damaging vehicles and buildings.
Police fired in the air and carried out a baton-charge to disperse the protesters after they attacked policemen. The mob also beat up fire brigade personnel and set on fire a police jeep. They then attacked the deputy commissioner's residence and the circuit house where a high-level meeting was in progress.
The incidents came a day after 25 people were wounded in Bathinda in a clash between Dera followers and Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC) activists over an advertisement in some newspapers purportedly showing the Dera head distributing 'amrit' (nector) while attired in the dress of Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru.
Dera followers have protested since yesterday against alleged police failure to check the "disgracing" of their master by some Sikhs through actions, such as the burning of effigies.
In Rajasthan, at least 30 people including four policemen were injured and 22 arrested in clashes between Akalis and Dera followers. Prohibitory orders were clamped in Sriganganagar after around 700 people belonging to both sides clashed near the district collectorate.
The tension at several places, including Amritsar, Ludhiana, Ferozepur, Moga and Hoshiarpur, between the followers of the two groups has its roots to recent assembly elections in the state when the political wing of the Sirsa (Haryana)-based Dera extended support to Congress nominees to the disadvantage of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
On the other hand, supporters of various Sikh organisations burnt effigies of Raheem at several places in Punjab and at Jammu and demanded his arrest.
Meanwhile, supporters of the Dera released a video CD in which their head was shown as saying he wore the dress given to him by a follower and meant no disrespect to any one.
No 'amrit' was distributed among the followers as alleged by some people, he said, adding that only milk mixed with Rooh Afza was given.
SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar in a statement charged the Congress with conspiring to revive terrorism in the state. Congress leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, on the other hand, alleged that the SAD-BJP government was not taking any action.
"The photo can be morphed," she said and demanded a probe into the incident.
The Dera had come into limelight after the murder of a Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chatterpatti in 2003 after he allegedly exposed some wrong doings in the Dera. Later on a CBI probe was launched into the killing of Chatterpatti.
Former West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee, who was arrested on July 23 in an alleged job scam case, has been reading compilations of the works of writer-activist Mahasweta Devia and sermons of 19th-century saint Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in his solitary cell at Kolkata's historic Presidency Jail now designated as a correctional home. Officials said Chatterjee has also requested a few other books on politics, economics, and law.
Delhi's air quality was in the satisfactory category on Wednesday morning as partly overcast weather was expected with a minimum temperature of 28 degrees Celsius and the maximum 37 degrees Celsius. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the hourly air quality index was 98 at 7am. On Sunday, the average 24-hour AQI was 112 in the moderate category with PM2.5 and PM 10 being the significant pollutants.
With speculation in some quarters about overhaul in Karnataka BJP, including replacement of the Chief Minister, once again coming to the fore, Opposition Congress on Tuesday took a dig at Basavaraj Bommai by calling Bommai a "Puppet CM" even as some ruling party leaders ruled out the possibility of a leadership-change.
Two drug addicts were arrested and four minor boys detained in connection with the killing of a food delivery man in Madhya Pradesh's Indore, police said on Tuesday. The motive of the accused was to rob the food and money from the victim, Sunil Verma (20), was carrying on the July 29 night, a police officer said. The incident had occurred under the limits of Banganga police station.
The Jammu and Kashmir Congress on Tuesday took out 'Azadi Ki Gaurav Padyatra' from Bhour camp to Satwari chowk here with its working president Raman Bhalla reiterating the demand for restoration of statehood to the erstwhile state. The 'Padyatra' was organised as part of the 75th anniversary of India's independence to recollect the sacrifices of martyrs and spread the message of communal harmony, Bhalla, who was leading the foot march, said.