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Sikh protestors call off agitation against Dera chief

Last updated on: June 21, 2008 21:43 IST

Guru Singh Sabha, a Sikh body heading the protests against the killing of a community member by Dera Sacha Sauda chief's bodyguard, on Saturday agreed to withdraw the agitation after Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil promised a thorough probe into the incident.

A metropolitan magistrate on Saturday remanded three persons, arrested in connection with the firing by the bodyguards of Dera Sacha Sauda chief outside a suburban mall in Mumbai, to police custody till July 2.

The three accused -- Jagdev Singh, Satnam Aroda and Rajguru Taneja -- bodyguards of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh had been arrested on Friday.

A group of armed protestors had staged a rail and road blockade at Mulund station on Saturday to protest the killing. The blockade disrupted rail traffic in the area for nearly an hour, after which the police managed to drive the protestors off the tracks, Central Railway sources said.

The protestors also forced local shops to down their shutters. Over 50 schools in Mumbai, affiliated to Sikh organisations, remained shut to protest the killing. Security has been beefed up in the area after the incident.

A group of Sikhs had raised anti-Dera slogans inside the mall in suburban Mulund during a visit by the Dera chief to the place on Friday evening, which led to an altercation between Singh's supporters and the Sikh group, that later turned violent.

Asked if any action would be taken against the sect head, the officer said it would depend only upon the progress made during the investigations and on the statements of arrested people as well as the witnesses.

A case of murder, attempt to murder and unlawful assembly under the provisions of Arms Act has been registered in connection with the incident, which left one dead and two others injured.

The police officer said the entire probe into the case has been now handed over to the city police's crime branch for investigation. The body of the deceased has been sent for postmortem.

Later in the day, a delegation, including former Maharashtra Director General of Police P S Pasricha and MLC Charansingh Sapra met the Deputy Chief Minister.

Sapra, however, later said the protests would continue in a 'democratic manner' until Dera chief Ram Rahim Singh was arrested. "The Sikh community members would not resort to any kind of violence."

Patil later told media persons that if required, police will summon Ram Rahim Singh for questioning in Friday night's incident at suburban Mulund where one person was killed.

Patil also said the Dera chief had informed the authorities about his arrival in Mumbai.

He also said government will think on whether security persons from other states should be allowed to operate in the state in future.

"State police are well capable of providing security to any person," he said.

Meanwhile, Sapra appealed to onlookers, who had footage of Friday night's firing on their mobiles, to come forward and provide evidence to the authorities.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced a compensation of Rs two lakh for the family of the person killed in Friday's firing.

Security has been beefed up in Sikh-dominated localities in Mumbai, Thane and Nanded, a senior official said.

A group of Sikhs had raised anti-Dera slogans inside the Nirmal Lifestyles mall in suburban Mulund during a visit by the Dera chief Ram Rahim Singh to the place on Friday evening, which led to an altercation between Singh's supporters and the Sikh group, which left one person dead and two injured.

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