Sikhs seek apology from Dera chief
Several towns and cities in Punjab remained tense on Wednesday as the Sikh community continued to demand an apology from the head of Dera Sacha Sauda sect Gurmit Ram Rahim for portraying himself on the lines of the revered 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh.
Sikh protestors came out on the streets in Sikh holy city Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala on Wednesday and burnt effigies of the Dera Godman.
In Amritsar, several Sikh youth and men, brandishing swords, other traditional weapons and sticks, protested and forced shopkeepers in various markets to down their shutters.
The protests were being led by various Sikh organisations and the Nihang sect of traditional Sikh warriors.
In Patiala, the district administration imposed Section 144 that disallows assembly of five or more people. This follows protests and clashes there on Tuesday.
Bathinda, which witnessed maximum violence on Monday and Tuesday leaving nearly 50 people injured and damaging public property, remained peaceful on Wednesday. The administration has ordered the closure of schools and colleges for three days.
Shops did open in Bathinda town even though there was underlying tension that incidents of the last two days could be repeated.
Followers of the dera had clashed with the police on Tuesday and resorted to violence and damage to public property in Bathinda. They also damaged police and fire brigade vehicles and ambulances.
Sikhs are protesting against the dera godman portraying himself like Guru Gobind Singh and offering to give nectar to his followers at his Sirsa headquarters in adjoining Haryana. They burnt effigies of the godman in several cities and towns of Punjab.
Following the Sikh protests, dera followers also came out on the streets in Bathinda and other places and protested against effigies of their religious leader being burnt.
The top Sikh clergy has called for a meeting of all Sikh organisations at Damdami Taksal near Amritsar on Thursday to decide the future course of action of the Sikh community in this matter.