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Home > News > PTI

Pressure mounts on Dera chief, solution likely soon

May 23, 2007 12:00 IST
Last Updated: May 23, 2007 22:50 IST

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The Dera Sacha Sauda on Wednesday night said an end to its stand-off with Sikhs was 'on the cards in a couple of days' even as pressure mounted on its chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh to offer an apology for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Sikhs.

"The roadblocks to an amicable settlement would be removed and a solution was on the cards within a couple of days," Dera chief spokesman Aditya Insaan told media persons in Sirsa.

His remarks came after marathon talks between the Dera chief and a four-member delegation of religious leaders headed by Swami Agnivesh trying to end the ten-day-old showdown between Sikhs and Dera following Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh's alleged imitation of Sikh Guru Gobind Singh's dress.

Agnivesh said Sant Gurmit Ram Raheem Singh should tender an 'open hearted apology' if the situation is to improve in Punjab and other states.

Agnivesh said he would not like to comment whether it was right or wrong for the Dera head to have imitated a dress of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru.

"But it is a fact that the sentiments of the Sikhs have been hurt (due to the act of the Dera Head)," he said, adding, "They (Dera) should come forward and apologise."

Agnivesh said the discussions with the Dera Chief and other officials centered around various issues, including the case registered against Sant Gurmit at Bhatinda recently for hurting religious sentiments and the May 27 deadline for the closure of Deras in Punjab.

"I am confident that if the Dera gives an open-hearted apology, things can improve," he said.

The issues raised by the Dera, including the Bhatinda case, can be sorted out, Swami Agnivesh added.

Swami Agnivesh said Dera Sacha Sauda had 'assured us that they were with us. We were expecting the draft of a joint statement from them on Tuesday itself but it had not come so far. After its receipt, the issue is to be taken up with Sikh leaders, including the Akal Takht, the highest temporal and spirital seat of Sikhs, he added.

The four-member all religion delegation led by Swami Agnivesh held marathon discussions at the Dera headquarters at Sirsa.

First, they had around two-hour talks with Dera officials followed by around seven-hour discussions with the Dera head and other officials.

Agnivesh said the peaceful bandh in Punjab indicated that the Sikhs also wanted a peaceful resolution.

Rakesh Parkash Jain, Father Philips and Mohd Jamal Ahmed Ilyasi representing Jain, Christianity and Muslim religions, accompanied Swami Agnivesh.

Agnivesh said the Dera chief was also concerned over the deteriorating situation in Punjab and favoured taking various steps to bring peace in the neighbouring state.

SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar told reporters in Amritsar said his organization would take all possible steps for compliance of the religious edict issued by the five Sikh high priests last Sunday against the Dera, including closure of its centres in Punjab by May 27.

Akal Takht Jathedar Gyani Joginder Singh Vedanti said the channel of dialogue on various, including the edict on closure of Dera centres in Punjab, could be opened with the Dera if its chief came forward with a public apology for his action of allegedly having worn a dress similar to the one worn by Guru Gobind Singh.

Reacting sharply to Makkar's statement that the committee was committed to enforcing the Akal Takht's edict against Dera, the Sirsa-based group's spokesman said such a statement was a 'setback' to initiatives for a peace with Sikhs.      

Aditya Insaan said the Dera favoured a peaceful resolution to the issue "but statements like the one from SGPC president on Wednesday were resulting in setback to the peace initiatives."  

"The Dera believes in democratic process and for the sake of peace we expressed regret. But the other side is still stubborn on their stand," Aditya said, adding that now at this juncture, the controversial statement by Makkar created a suspicion in the process of restoration of peace.

However, the Dera spokesman said that even in these circumstances they were in favour of peace.

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