SGPC stays firm, says Deras must leave Punjab
Hardening its stand on seeking removal of Dera Sacha Sauda sect campuses from Punjab, the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) Wednesday said it did not matter even if the move was unconstitutional.
The SGPC - the 'mini-parliament' of Sikhs that manages Sikh gurudwaras in Punjab - remained firm on the May 27 deadline of the Akal Takht to evict the Deras from Punjab even as efforts were on in Sirsa of neighbouring Haryana to work out an apology from the Dera's side to defuse the tension with the Sikh community.
Queried about the legality of the Akal Takht's hukumnama, or edict, seeking closure of all Dera properties by May 27, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said he was "ignorant" of laws or the constitution.
"For us the Akal Takht is supreme and its hukumnama will be implemented. I have not read the law or the constitution and do not bother. We will ensure that the Dera activities are completely stopped in Punjab," Makkar said.
He was talking to reporters after an SGPC meeting to discuss the issue of blasphemy of the Sikh religion by Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim, who had portrayed himself like the 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh.
Makkar's statement came even as religious leaders continued parleys with the sect chief and his top advisors to work out an apology over the issue that refuses to die down.
Noted religious leader and social activist Swami Agnivesh was leading a delegation from various religions that has been holding talks with the sect chief since Tuesday.
Meetings at the Sirsa headquarters of the sect continued on Wednesday.
The issue of blasphemy led to large-scale protests and violence in Punjab for five days last week. Normal life in the state was crippled Tuesday following a shutdown call given by the Akal Takht - highest temporal seat of Sikhism. The call was supported by the Akali Dal, which leads the coalition government in the state.
The Akali Dal's ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday hoped that a solution to the Sikh-sect impasse would be found before May 27.