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Haryana: 1 killed in Sikh-Dera clashes, curfew imposed

July 19, 2008 02:25 IST

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The army was kept on standby and curfew imposed in Dabwali town in Haryana's Sirsa district on Friday after a group of Sikhs and supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda fought pitched battles in which one person was killed and 30 injured.

Late on Friday night, violence spread to Gukanwali village, about 25 km from Dabwali, as Sikhs attacked an ashram belonging to the Dera and set it on fire.

Paramilitary personnel were deployed at the village where the Sikhs and Dera followers have been on a warpath since last year when the Dera head was prevented by Sikhs from holding a prayer meeting.

The clashes in Dabwali broke out following an altercation between two sides during morning prayers in Dabwali, about 60 km from Sirsa, Deputy Commissioner V Umashankar said.

"One person belonging to the group of Sikh supporters slipped and fell down in the melee and was killed in brickbatting during the clash. He has been identified as Mandar Singh of Dabwali," Umashankar, who also received minor injury when he went to assess the situation in the town, said.

The supporters of each group were carrying weapons, including swords and lathis, during the clash.

After the incident, violence erupted as an irate mob went on the rampage and damaged about 30 shops in Dabwali and burnt two of them. Some vehicles were also damaged by the mob.

"Though additional forces including Rapid Action Force have been deployed in Dabwali and Sirsa, we have kept the army also on standby just in case the need arises. We want to ensure law and order is maintained at any cost," Umashankar told PTI.

The situation in entire Sirsa district was tense after the incident and both Haryana and Punjab were put on high alert.

Dera chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been at loggerheads with Sikh clergy for alleged blasphemy after he wore clothes similar to those of Sikh Guru Govind Singh.

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