Mumbai Sikhs end daylong violence after government orders probe (Fourth Lead)June 21st, 2008 - 10:07 pm ICT by IANS
Mumbai, June 21 (IANS) The Maharashtra government will conduct an inquiry into the activities of the Dera Sacha Sauda in Mumbai, deputy chief minister R.R. Patil said here Saturday after daylong violence by Sikhs protesting the killing of a member of their community by a bodyguard of the Dera chief. The Sikh-dominated Mulund area of northeast Mumbai was on the boil for most of Saturday as thousands of Sikhs protested the killing of a community member by the bodyguards of Dera chief Ram Rahim Singh the previous day.
The protesters squatted on railway tracks, damaged a station and observed a shutdown in parts of Mumbai, prompting the deployment of additional security forces. Policemen kept chasing away sword-brandishing protesters at various trouble spots, often using force and lobbing tear gas shells.
Charan Singh Sapra, a Sikh legislator of the Congress party from Mulund, told IANS: “We have demanded that Dera chief Ram Rahim Singh and his men be booked by police. The Sikh community is shocked that despite the murderous attack on innocent youths, the Dera members managed to evade police action.”
Patil said a decision on arresting Dera leaders or their supporters would be taken only after the inquiry.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor told mediapersons Saturday evening that so far, three persons have been arrested in connection with Friday night’s incident. Eleven other suspects have been rounded up for interrogation, he added.
Three of those nabbed were the Dera chief’s bodyguards - Bishmal Taneja, Satnam Arora and Guru Singh - who were caught from the neighbouring Raigad district, around 100 km from Mumbai. A fourth person was arrested from Raigad and the four have been remanded to police custody.
In addition, 11 other suspects have been detained in Mumbai, 10 in Pune and one from Khopoli.
Dera chief Ram Rahim Singh was said to be present near the upmarket Nirmal Lifestyle Mall in Mulund in northeast Mumbai with his bodyguards and supporters when they clashed with members of the local Sikh community. Malkar Singh, a Sikh, died in the clash Friday night.
The Sikhs continued their protests overnight, with over 5,000 of them blocking trains for over two hours Saturday morning and staging a sit-in protest outside the Mulund police station.
The tension caused a virtual shutdown in Mulund and its neighbouring areas Saturday. Local Sikh-managed educational institutions remained closed in protest against the incident.
The shutdown was also observed in Sikh majority pockets in Thane district, towns like Kalyan and Ulhasnagar, and reports of stray incidents of violence came in from different parts of the suburb.
Simultaneously, security was beefed up in other Sikh-dominated localities of Mumbai, Thane, and Nanded in northeastern Maharashtra.
At least one policeman has sustained injuries in the altercation with the agitating mobs, Gafoor added.
Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs.200,000 to the family of Malkar Singh.
Deshmukh announced a compensation of Rs. 25,000 to the victims injured in Friday night’s shooting.
The Dera chief’s convoy sped out of Mumbai late Friday night.