Dera chief offers talks with Sikhs to resolve controversy

July 27th, 2008 - 11:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Sirsa (Haryana), July 27 (IANS) Controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh Sunday said in this Haryana town that the differences between the sect and the Sikh community could be resolved if both sides sit “across the table”. Giving replies to written questions from select mediapersons here during his interaction with his close followers, the Dera chief said that he was “open to talks with Sikh leaders to resolve the issue”.

This was the first time he directly faced the media since his controversy with the Sikh community April last year when he attired himself like 10th Sikh guru, Gobind Singh, leading to angry protests from Sikhs.

“I am not against the Sikhs. I have highest respect for the Sikh community and its gurus. So many of my own followers are Sikhs. The end to this problem is only through talks,” the sect chief said at his sprawling Dera headquarters near Sirsa.

Even as the sect chief suggested reconciliation with the Sikh community, radical Sikh leaders, who had assembled at Dabwali town in Haryana, 50 km from here, for the bhog or memory service of a Sikh activist who was killed in a Dera-Sikh clash at Dabwali last week, rejected the talks offer from the sect chief.

“The dress code controversy was unnecessary. I used to wear a similar dress earlier also. My comparison with the 10th Sikh guru is unimaginable for me,” the Dera chief said.

The sect chief said that his sect had no political affiliations and his followers were free to vote for any party.

He said that some miscreants, linked to the drug mafia, were behind the attacks on Dera followers in Punjab and Haryana as the sect was trying to eradicate the drug menace in the region.

About a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court ordering framing of charges of rape against him, the sect chief said that he had full faith in the judiciary.

“You should understand that the court has only ordered framing of charges. I have not been convicted of it. Framing of charges is one thing, conviction is another,” he said.

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