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Sikh hardliners taken into preventive custody

preventive custody

Amritsar : The leaders of some Sikh outfits and hardline groups were taken into preventive custody early today in apprehension of breach of peace after a call that the newly-appointed jathedars would address the community from the Akal Takht.

Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann and United Akali Dal leader Bhai Mokham Singh, the key organisers of yesterday’s ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ a grand assembly of Sikhs, were taken into preventive custody by the police.

Police said that the security in Amritsar, especially in and around the Golden Temple complex, had been strengthened.

“Mann and Bhai Mokham Singh have been taken into preventive custody,” Amritsar Police Commissioner, J S Aulakh said.

He said that “the situation in Amritsar was “peaceful and under control.”

There were reports that some more Sikh leaders including Amrik Singh Ajnala of Damdami Taksal, who was appointed as Head Priest of Takht Keshgarh Sahib in the over seven-hour long congregation, had been rounded up by the police.

Notably, several Sikh outfits and hardline groups yesterday convened what they called ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ here and appointed Jagtar Singh Hawara, the convict in Beant Singh assassination case, as Jathedar of Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs.

Apart from Akal Takht, the congregation also “removed” jathedars of two other Takhts– Takht Kesgarh Sahib and Takht Damdama Sahib.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, mini-parliament of Sikh religion, appoints all jathedars (Sikh head priests).

The hardliners and some other Sikh groups have been alleging that the ruling Badal family of Punjab controls the SGPC.

The congregation accused the incumbent Sikh head priests, appointed by SGPC, of not keeping up the dignity and traditions of Sikh institutions.

The ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ was organised at Chabba village, about 10 kms from the holy city, to “free” Sikh institutions from political influence.

The gathering was organised to discuss the ouster of Akal Takht head Gurbachan Singh and other Sikh priests involved in “pardoning” of Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for his alleged blasphemy in 2007, which triggered violence in Punjab and Haryana.

However, SGPC and Akal Takht, Sikhism’s highest religious seat, had refused to term it as ‘Sarbat Khalsa’.

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