U-turn: Reopen 2007 ‘blasphemy’ case against dera chief, demands Akal Takht head
The self-styled godman had imitated the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in 2007 leading to his excommunication.punjab Updated: Sep 04, 2017 21:43 IST
In total reversal of stand, Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh on Monday demanded reopening of a case registered against the chief of Sirsa headquartered Dera Sacha Sauda in 2007 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
Gurmeet, now a rape convict sentenced to 20 years in jail on August 28, had been booked under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code 10 years ago when he reportedly imitated the tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh, at a dera event at its centres in Salabatpura near Bathinda. The case was cancelled in 2014 after police filed a report to this effect in a local court.
For 10 years, anyway, the case was neither followed up by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which has the authority to appoint the head priest, nor the Shiromani Akali Dal controls the SGPC and was in power for that period.
- *In September 2015, a flip-flop by the Akal Takht in giving pardon to Ram Rahim (for his act of imitating the tenth Sikh Guru) and withdrawing the pardon three weeks later was much criticised.
- *Some leaders within the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had criticised the episode, saying that the jathedars acted in haste in giving pardon and later revoking it.
- *Last week, jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said that the 2007 hukamnama (edict) for the dera’s boycott can’t be withdrawn, because “to withdraw a hukamnama, forgiveness had to be sought; and in case of the dera, there’s no scope now”.
As for the jathedar, he as part of the Sikh clergy had issued a pardon to the dera chief in 2015, only to withdraw it within days under pressure from within the community.
The SAD — which was cautious as the dera is strong in 50 constituencies (mostly in the Malwa belt) out of the 117 in the assembly — had got its support in 2012 and then earlier this year too. In January this year, just before the polls, Akali candidates had even assured help to the dera follower in holding naam charcha (congregations) in Punjab, something that had not happened since 2007.
Talking to HT, Giani Gurbachan Singh said on Monday, “The case against the dera chief was registered in 2007 for offering ‘jaam-e-insaan’ and imitating our Guru. We will now discuss the case with the SGPC chief and ensure that Ram Rahim be tried and punished for hurting the religious beliefs of the Sikh community.” SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar said, “I will meet jathedar saab to discuss the matter and proceed further.”
As a fallout of the act of imitation by the dera head, an edict by the then head priest of the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, had asked Sikhs to socially boycott the dera and its followers.
Giani Gurbachan had contended after the pardon row, “ No apology has been given to him (the dera chief). He has not got any clean chit from Akal Takht. As per the Akal Takht hukamnama (edict), he remains excommunicated.”
A day after Ram Rahim was sentenced in the rape case, Giani Gurbachan Singh had welcomed ‘premis’ — ‘the loving ones’, as the dera followers call themselves — back into the Sikh fold, terming it “homecoming”.
First Published: Sep 04, 2017 16:08 IST