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Sikh protests fan out; Dera chief taken to undisclosed destination

June 22, 2008 21:29 IST

The police on Sunday shifted Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to an undisclosed destination for "security reasons" amid continued protests over the gunning down of a Sikh demonstrator in Mumbai while radical groups demanded the Dera Sacha Sauda chief's immediate arrest.

As protests by Sikh groups spilled over into Bangalore, Mysore and Jammu besides several towns of Punjab and Haryana, SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar appealed to them to "maintain calm and not to allow themselves to be provoked".

He said the protests should be within the "parameters of the law" and announced Rs 5 lakh to dependents of Balkar Singh Thakur, 40, who was killed when Ram Rahim Singh's security guards allegedly opened fire on Sikh demonstrators near a mall in suburban Mulund on Friday.

The head of the Sirsa-based sect was whisked away by the police to an undisclosed place on Sunday morning after he reached Mysore from Bangalore.

The controversial spiritual leader arrived in his bullet -proof car and headed straight to the sect's Prathana Mandir at Siddalingapara on the city's outskirts, but police shifted

him from there apprehending a threat to his life as his presence had triggered protests by local Sikh groups.

Swords and daggers drawn, members of the community also blocked traffic on Jammu-Pathankote national highway and burnt the Dera chief in effigy in Sirsa, Moga and Sangrur though the protests remained by and large peaceful, police reports said.

Radical groups Damdami Taksal and Sant Samaj demanded that Ram Rahim Singh be arrested by Tuesday after which they would call a rail and road blockade. They also asked the Centre to withdraw Z-plus security cover to the Dera.

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