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Home > News > Interview

The Rediff Interview/Swami Agnivesh

'Dera chief should have apologised at once'

May 24, 2007

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Swami Agnivesh, who shot into the limelight for exposing bonded labour in Delhi, is a busy man at the moment.

He, along with others, has been trying to persuade Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to apologise in order to end the standoff between the sect and the Sikhs over his alleged blasphemous act.

Ram Rahim set off a controversy when he by appearing in attire similar to the one worn by the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, and distributed amrit (nectar) to his followers at his Dera in Sirsa.

"I have been trying to speak to the Sacha Sauda management but so far there has been no response," Swami Agnivesh told's Senior Associate Editor Onkar Singh in an exclusive interview. "We are waiting for a fax from (Dera chief spokesman) Aditya Insaan to sort out the matter."

Are you still hopeful that the matter would be sorted out by Thursday night?

I am hopeful that the matter will be resolved because both the parties involved -- the Dera and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee -- have given their assurance that they would do their best to sort things out.

What is the hitch?

The Dera was supposed to send me their letter of apology, which I had to get approved from the Akal Takht chief Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti. It would then be simultanteously released from Sirsa, Amritsar and Delhi. But I am still waiting for their letter to be faxed to me.

What if they do not send it by Thursday evening?

We shall cross that bridge when we come to it.

Why did you choose to get involved?

I stepped into this matter hoping to serve the national cause. I wanted to understand both points of view and see how best we can help in averting a showdown between Sacha Sauda and the Sikhs.

What is your personal assessment of the matter?

I think the Baba (Ram Rahim) should not have posed as Guru Gobind Singh and released advertisements in the newspapers, knowing fully well that it would hurt the Sikh sentiments.

Guru Gobind Singh is a great personality who sacrificed his sons and his entire family for a cause. For someone to try and pose like him is wrong and that person would be treated by the Sikhs as an impostor as there is no human Guru after Guru Gobind Singh.

What would you have done in this situation? 

We are talking right now of Baba Ram Rahim. He should have tendered an apology and ended the matter before it became bitter. Pope Benedict also apologised to all Muslims when he realised that his statement on Islam had hurt their sentiments.

Did Baba miss an opportunity to do the same?

I think he did.

The Rediff Interviews