Punjab Police withdraws security of dera chief
May 19, 2007 - 7:07:39 PM

Chandigarh, May 19 - In a significant move, Punjab Police Saturday withdrew the security cover of the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief at his Sirsa headquarters in neighbouring Haryana.

The move to withdraw the security cover of Gurmit Ram Rahim comes just hours before a 72-hour ultimatum served on the Akali Dal government by the Sikh clergy to arrest the godman ends Sunday noon.

In a related development, the Punjab government transferred Bathinda district police chief Naresh Kumar and posted him in Chandigarh. Bathinda witnessed sectarian clashes on Monday and Tuesday between the Sikh community and followers of the dera sect over the godman appearing dressed as the 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh.

Kumar has been made in-charge of community policing. Naunihal Singh will be the new Bathinda senior superintendent of police -.

'We have withdrawn the Punjab Police security provided to the dera chief. The security cover had been given to him by the previous Congress government,' Director General of Police N.P.S. Aulakh said here.

Police security cover on the sect chief comprised four personal security officers. Saturday all of them were asked to report back to Punjab.

Aulakh justified the withdrawal of security saying that it was not required from Punjab since the sect chief enjoyed security from Haryana Police and also kept private guards.

Sikh community leaders have been demanding the arrest of Gurmit Ram Rahim. The state witnessed five days of clashes this week between Sikhs and sect followers.

Though the Punjab government is under pressure to arrest the sect chief by Sunday, it is likely to wait for an inquiry report from an inspector general of police on this week's violence before registering a case against him.

Even then, it will not be easy for Punjab Police to arrest him since he lives in neighbouring Haryana. Punjab will then have to seek the help of the central and Haryana government to arrest him from his Sirsa campus, 300 km from here.

Regarding the transfer of the Bathinda SSP, Aulakh said that it was a 'routine transfer'.

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