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Will appeal for peace, but can’t control devotees’ emotions: Dera’s Punjab HQ in-charge

The dera’s Punjab headquarters in-charge said the biggest challenge is the emotions of the followers and “everybody, including the government, is aware of this”.

punjab Updated: Aug 24, 2017 23:17 IST
Sachin Sharma
Sachin Sharma
Hindustan Times, Bathinda
Jora Singh,Dera sacha sauda,dera sacha sauda news
Jora Singh, Dera Sacha Sauda’s Punjab headquarters in-charge. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

A day ahead of the August 25 verdict in a rape case on Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the sect’s Punjab headquarters in-charge said on Thursday, “We will appeal to our followers to keep calm in case of an adverse verdict, but we can’t control their emotions.”

Speaking at the Salabatpura centre of the dera near Bathinda — about 100 km from dera’s main HQ Sirsa in Haryana — Jora Singh said the biggest challenge is the emotions of the followers and “everybody, including the government, is aware of this”. Some dera followers have been gathering at Salabatpura too, and plan to throng the place on Friday. There are already thousands of them in Haryana’s Panchkula, next to Chandigarh, where a CBI court is to deliver its judgment in the 15-year-old case of two sadhvis (female followers) who have accused the dera head of sexual exploitation.

The dera has following concentrated in the inter-state border region of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

On security arrangements by the Punjab government, Jora said, “Some anti-social elements want to defame the dera, and the government arrangements are to deal only with those elements. That’s the government’s duty.”

About the presence of few followers at Salabatpura on Thursday, he said, “We are avoiding a big gathering here on Friday, but followers will come which we can’t stop . We will hold naam charcha (prayers).”

The dera head has not entered Punjab since 2007 when violent clashes were witnessed between Sikhs and teh dera’s devotees after he allegedly dressed up as the tenth Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh. There was talk of his holding sermons in Punjab — at Salabatpura — now, but that’s on hold in light of the case verdict. Sikh outfits have urged the community to distance itself from the matter, but “be ready for self-defence, if required”.

Meanwhile, amid tight security arrangements with the deployment of paramilitary too, Bathinda district remained calm but tense. Fewer vehicles were plying on the road compared to usual days.

An anti-sabotage team of the state police conducted a search around the Salabatpura dera with metal detectors. The cops are equipped with tear gas and other anti-riot equipment.

In Faridkot, hundreds of dera followers gathered at the local naam charcha ghar, where some local leaders of the sect were seen threatening the government of the “worst law and order situation” in case the dera chief is convicted on Friday.

“I hope that everything goes in our favour on August 25, or else we will turn everything upside down,” said Surinder Kumar Bhangi, a local dera leader said in his speech.

(With inputs by Nikhil Sharma in Faridkot)

First Published: Aug 24, 2017 20:22 IST