This Bathinda village still awaits Dera Sacha Sauda chief as a ‘saviour’
Most Dera Sacha Sauda supporters here — 500 of 700 families — though have taken to ‘hiding’ the symbol of their faith, the locket that depicts his picture.Updated: Sep 02, 2017 10:04 IST
Unshakeable faith in jailed rape convict Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim and his ‘return’, even as he has been jailed for 20 years. This is what remains with you, as you return after a visit to Naseebpura village, 5 km off the Bathinda-Talwandi Sabo Road.
Most Dera Sacha Sauda supporters here — 500 of 700 families — though have taken to ‘hiding’ the symbol of their faith, the locket that depicts his picture. It lies close to their chest, but is concealed under the buttoned-up shirts. Most of the population that supports the Baba is poor and is from Scheduled Castes.
“All of us have donated our eyes. Such wisdom has come from our guru (the dera chief only). He will return.”
“All of us have donated our eyes (after death). Such wisdom has come from our guru (the dera chief only),” says panchayat member Nachhatar Singh (60).
“He (their guru) will return soon at the dera headquarters. We will sacrifice our lives if something happens to him,” he claimed. Balwinder Singh, another villager, rationalised, on the hidden lockets. “The atmosphere is tense. The media exaggerated the issue and provoked the ‘premis’. Now, we need to be careful.”
An angry Sukhminder Kaur — women had been largely silent — who stood behind the men, shouted back to a query, “Baba Wapis Aayuga (The godman will return)”. At this, youths remonstrated that TV channels had turned their guru into a villian.
As the elders pacified them, one of them claimed that he came out of dera headquarters on the night of Wednesday last (August 30) after a week. “There is no message from the dera as yet,” he replied, when asked whether a successor had been announced. “Nobody can dare to take his (the dera chief’s) position, he will return,” another elderly man shouted. Others murmured in unison.
Independent political say
This Naseebpura village had posed its voice of dissent in the Punjab assembly elections earlier this year, voting for AAP’s winning candidate Baljider Kaur. This went against the dera's then clarion call to vote for the Shiromani Akali Dal. “Akalis failed to fullfill the promise of digging out themuch-needed minor canal for irrigation, during their
10-year regime,” Nachhattar said.
2007 Dera-Sikh clash haunts
Premis also recall that a 2007 Akal Takht edict that called for boycott of the 'Premis' led to hardships during the Dera-Sikh clashes in 2007. “They (Sikhs) refused to give us utensils and beddings from the local gurdwara, when these were needed for marriages and other family functions, and since then our 'Bhaichara' (dera community) makes its own arrangement,” Nachhattar said.
“We are counted among the Sikh population during the census, and we equally regard Guru Granth Sahib as our holy scriptures, and have faith in Guru Gobind Singh,” said a young man, who lamented the rift between the 'premis' and the ‘Sikhs’.
Caste divide even among premis
Dera followers in the village are from SC poor families, of whom the Ravidasiyas have their separate cremation ground. “The Majhbi also had a cremation ground. Their land was taken away for waterworks. The cremation ground is now shared with the jat Sikhs,” Nachhattar explained.