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Sants Came Marching In, Badal Rushed To Deflate

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Sants came marching in, Badal rushed to deflate
Written by Ashok Sharma Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fatehgarh Sahib/Mohali: Of the several Machiavellian ways available to a politician to torpedo a move that could inspire a community to stress its aspirations and forge a feeling of identity, Punjab Chief Minister and Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal chose the option of direct intervention. Few can deflate a movement in Sikh ranks with the dexterity of a Badal. As the Sikh leaders associated with the Sant Samaj came marching from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib to Chandigarh to court arrest, their protest aimed at forcing the government to arrest Dera Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the group was stopped in Mohali where Badal himself landed, asking the Sants not to adopt the strategy of dharnas and arrests. "Such protests suit politicians, not the Sants," Badal said.

He said the provocation created by Dera head was indeed grave, but he just couldn't go ahead and arrest Gurmit Ram Rahim since he was bound by the Oath of Constitution and will allow the law to take its own course. Badal did not say which Article of the Constitution allows someone to insult and imitate the Sikh Gurus.

The CM's media adviser Harcharan Singh Bains was with Badal as he engaged the Sants for about 45 minutes in Mohali's Phase VIII on Mohali-Sirhind road. As the Sant Samaj leadership seemed intent on courting arrest, Badal refused to budge saying he just can't allow any detention or arrest of the Sants. Minutes after he left, a message from the Akal Takht jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti arrived through SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar asking all leaders to formulate any protest programs only after clearance from the temporal authority. This was enough to convince the Sant Samaj to call off Tuesday's protest.

Damdami Taksal leader Harnam Singh Dhumma, who often suffixes 'Khalsa' or 'Bhindranwale' with his name depending upon the occasion, seemed to more ready than others to concede, which also brought out the fact that the Sant Samaj also had internal differences on the matter.

The exercise was in many ways a repeat of the earlier march from Fatehgarh Sahib which was to reach Chandigarh, but then diverted to nearby Gurdwara Jyoti Saroop where ADCs of Punjab and Haryana governors had reached to receive the memorandums. The move had taken the sting out of the protest and made life easier for Badal.

Earlier, the sants held a meeting at Dewan Todar Mal hall on the gurdwara premises during which prominent Sikh leaders criticized chief of the dera Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Of course, the continued pressure tactics is also yielding some dividends. On June 19, the Badal government moved to up the pressure with the Bathinda police seeking from a local court arrest warrants against Gurmeet Ram Rahim in the criminal case registered against him at the city police station here on May 20.

The move now makes the entry of Gurmeet Ram Rahim into Bathinda difficult and strategists of the government say it was to stall a satsang in the dera branch at Salabatpura village in July where Gurmeet Ram was to participate.
Police said the formal application was moved regarding the criminal case registered under Section 295-A of the IPC on the complaint of Rajinder Singh Sidhu, president, local Khalsa Diwan.

Badal's claims of so much respect for the Sants notwithstanding, the panthic government had ordered tough measures by the police. Elaborate security arrangements were made and cops from other districts were also called in to ensure law and order. Tear-gas guns and anti-rioting squads were on hand and policemen deflated tyres of vehicles parked along the Fatehgarh-Mohali road. Movements of perceived radicals, like Bhai Daljit Singh of Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Dal Khalsa general secretary Kanwar Pal Singh, were video graphed by the police during their stay in the district and the convoy of over 150 vehicles was escorted by the police up to the district border.

Dhumma did not forget to add that soon the next line of action will be decided, a clear indication that the Sant Samaj would like to keep the leadership role on the issue. As for Bhai Daljit Singh, his movements were a more closely followed exercise since a case of sedition is pending against him and he was expected to join investigations.

Punjab Police back to old ways

But these were not the only developments. The Punjab Police meanwhile prepared to gather ammunition against men who could be a pain in the neck someday because they aren’t adopting the compromising tone. The Mohali police claimed it has nabbed former Bhindarawale Tiger Force (BTF) terrorist Sangat Singh Bawani's son Gurcharan Singh Kala and his accomplice Sawranjit Singh Bobby, a local leader, for planning to kill Baba Bhaniarawala and forming a Khalsa Action Committee for the purpose.

The police claimed that Bobby and Kala met in the high security Nabha jail where they were pursuaded by Daljit Singh Bittu, Balbir Singh Beera and Gursharan Singh Gama, associated with Kala's father, to eliminate Baba Bhaniarawala. Mohali SSP Ranbir Singh Khatra said the two had confessed to the plot and a .455 bore pistol, a .30 bore revolver and two grenades were recovered from them. The duo were nabbed for attempting to snatch police weapons in Bhakhra canal siphon in Jhalliana village and loot a Kurali-based trader. Both have been remanded to judicial custody.

A day later, the Moga police also registered a sedition case against some unknown pro Khalistanis for threatening the life of Dera Sauda head following appearance of a few provocative posters.

Bhaniarawala, who was ex-communicated by the Akal Takht, presently resides in his village Dhamana in Ropar under a CRPF cover.



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