Trains stopped in Punjab over Dera chief row

June 25th, 2008 - 12:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, June 25 (IANS) Sikh activists Wednesday stopped trains at several places across Punjab, seeking the arrest of controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh. The protest was triggered by the killing of a Sikh youth, Balkar Singh, outside a shopping mall in Mumbai by the Dera chief’s security guards Friday.

Four trains were stopped by Sikh activists in Amritsar district, forcing railway authorities to cancel several other trains.

Trains were also stopped by Sikh protesters at Jalandhar, Sangrur, Abohar and Bathinda. A goods train was stopped near Fatehgarh Sahib, about 60 km from here.

The call for protests against the sect chief was given by radical Sikh organisations owing allegiance to the Sant Samaj. These include organisations like Damdami Taksal, Khalsa Action Committee and the Akali Dal (Amritsar).

They are seeking the arrest of the sect chief. The Punjab police have made elaborate security arrangements across the state to prevent the protests from turning violent.

Security around the sect’s campuses, especially the biggest campus in Punjab at Salabatpura in Bathinda district, was beefed up last week itself fearing attacks from Sikh activists.

In neighbouring Haryana, the police remained on high alert - particularly in Sirsa town where the headquarters of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect are located - following a protest call by the Sikh community.

Two companies of the Rapid Action Force, personnel of the Haryana police and even the Border Security Force (BSF) were stationed in and around the town to prevent any untoward incident.

The sect chief himself has been confined to his headquarters after he had to fly in a chartered helicopter Monday from Delhi fearing attacks from the Sikh community if he travelled by road.

The sect chief enjoys Z-plus security cover from the Haryana police despite being accused of two murder conspiracy cases and one case of rape in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ambala.

The sect chief had got into a row with the Sikh community last May after he attired himself like 10th Sikh guru, Gobind Singh, at a religious ceremony of his sect.

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