http://www.ibnlive.com/news/debate-sikh-dera-need-patience/43810-3.html Debate: Sikh, Dera need patience CNN-IBN New Delhi: It’s Sikh versus Sikh in Punjab once again. The Dera Sacha Sauda issue is set to become a major political crisis. Punjab’s Akali government has cleared the arrest of Dera chief Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Raheem, even though the Baba has already apologised twice to the Akal Takht for appearing in an advertisement dressed as a Sikh guru. Is the Prakash Singh government playing with fire by trying to appease radical elements in the state? And why is the Dera issue being politicized and blown out of proportion? To answer that on CNN-IBN Face the Nation was Rajya Sabha MP and Former Chairman of National Minorities Commission Tarlochan Singh with Social Activist Swami Agnivesh. Punjab clears Dera chief's arrest: Does Sikhism needs to become more tolerant? Tarlochan Singh who is close to the Akali government, was asked as to what is the crime that the head of the Dera Sacha Sauda has committed. All that the Dera chief did was that he dressed up as a guru in an advertisement, for which he has already apologized twice. Yet, the Prakash Singh Badal government wants to arrest him on charges of “disgracing” the Sikh religion. Is the issue being politicized to benefit some select elements? Is this au all a political vendetta? “The issue is not at all political, but a purely religious one, where the identity of the Sikh minority is at stake. The minority community has to watch its own interest. The Sikh community cannot tolerate anyone trying to minimize the role of Sikh gurus or imitating out religious founders,” said Tarlochan Singh. The Akal Takht supporter said that there is a clear difference between media’s perception and the one of the ruling Akalis on the entire Dera controversy. “Look at history and we have shown enough tolerance even in the worst conditions. Our gurus were butchered, tortured and slain. But we never attacked back. This time, our religion is being ridiculed and hence we cannot tolerate it,” said Singh. But, is the strife between Dera Sacha Sauda and Akal Takht a proxy political battle? The Deras supported the Congress in the previous elections—one of the probable reasons why Prakash Singh Badal government is now going out for the Deras. The entire standoff is being viewed as a politics of vendetta on Badal’s part. “I can tell you from my personal experience that when I went to Dera Chiefs to help him wriggle out of the situation, he made me stand for whole 10 hours outside his camp in Sirsa. And he would not come up with a simple apology,” social activist Swami Agnivesh said. But why should Baba ram Rahim apologies anymore? What is so criminal about just wearing a costume that resembles one worn by a religious guru? Can someone who just dresses up like a guru, damage a great faith like Sikhism? A deeper philosophical question that confronts modern Sikhism is—whether it’s the Nirankaris sect, the Namdhari sect or the Dera Sacha Sauda—why does the Sikh clergy sees these sects as religious pollutants or those trying to damage the identity of their religion? “You have to understand the perception of the minority community. Look at Muslims, a simple cartoon of Mohammad Sahab sent the Islamic community up in flames. Sikhs are offended much the same way,” said swami Agnivesh. Responding to the issue of minority communities, Tarlochan Singh said, “India recognizes only one minority which is Muslims. For them, even the government can go to any extent. But when something wrong happens with Sikh community, we are told to get modernized in our view.” “We are great because we have the best message for the world. But we cannot tolerate humiliation. We have tolerance but that doesn’t mean we do away our principles,” he added. While the controversy does not seem to end, some pinpoint to the fact that stiff competition between the mainstream institutional religions and the small sects, is responsible for the row. These tiny sects give voice to the poor, do welfare work and hence manage to gather huge number of followers. Dera Sacha widely popular because it has given acceptance and support to dalits and backward casts whereas the mainstream Sikh religion is made of rich Jat Sikhs. Responding to the issue, Tarlochan Singh said, “We have no dispute with them. They can carry on whatever they are doing but they must not forget their limits. They should not disgrace other religions.” “Dera has a right to exist but within lawful limits,” said Swami Agnivesh. “The Dera chief must be arrested on the CBI charges against him that involve serious offences like rape and murder,” he concluded. Final Results: Does Sikhism needs to become more tolerant? Yes: 85 per cent of the viewers said, the Sikhs need to be more tolerant towards other sects and religious groups while 15 per cent said no.