Punjab to send plane to get sect leader’s body from Austria (To go with: Murdered sect leader’s remains to be brought to India)

June 1st, 2009 - 12:21 am ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, May 31 (IANS) In an unprecedented move, the Punjab government Sunday announced it would send a chartered flight from New Delhi Tuesday to bring back the body of Dera Sachh Khand sect leader Sant Rama Nand Dass from Austria’s capital Vienna.
The government has announced that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s Principal Secretary D.S. Guru would go in the chartered flight to get the body of the sect leader from Vienna.

The sect leader died of gunshot injuries following an attack on him and sect head Niranjan Dass at a gurdwara in Vienna last Sunday.

Sant Rama Nand Dass died while the sect head was recovering following the attack.

The sect head will also return by the same flight to India. The body and the sect head would be flown to the Dera headquarters at Ballan village near Jalandhar, 150 km from here, by a chartered helicopter.

The attack on the sect leaders led to widespread violence by sect followers in central Punjab May 24-25. Three people died, dozens were injured and public and private property worth millions was damaged during the violence.

“All arrangements for bringing the body to Delhi would be made by the Punjab government. The step was being taken as a mark of respect to the departed soul and in deference to the wishes and sentiments of peaceful and law abiding devotees of the holy man,” the chief minister’s media adviser Harcharan Bains said here Sunday.

Members of the sect are followers of Guru Ravi Dass and mostly Dalit Sikhs from Punjab.

But the move by the government, apparently to appease the sect, has been opposed by Sikh religion hardliners, including members of the ruling Akali Dal and All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF).

At a gathering at a gurdwara in Jalandhar city Sunday, leaders from these organisations objected to the announcement of compensation for families of the Dalit protesters who were killed during last week’s riots.

Badal had announced a compensation of Rs.500,000 to the family of each of the three protesters killed.

The gathering observed that giving compensation to the protesters amounted to “rewarding the rioters”. They demanded that protesters, who held the state to ransom for nearly 40 hours, should be slapped with criminal cases.

The meeting, held at Jalandhar’s Paragpur gurdwara, was attended by leaders of 70 villages of Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts.

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