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Last Updated: May 20, 2007 - 10:48:48 AM
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Punjab quiet, hardliners demand sect chief's arrest
May 19, 2007 - 4:46:05 PM
'He is not admitting to his mistake and only trying to mislead people,' Khalsa said.

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[RxPG] Chandigarh, May 19 - Punjab witnessed a normal day Saturday after five days of sectarian clashes even as a hard line Sikh group demanded that nothing less than the arrest of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief was acceptable to the Sikh community.

The Damdami Taksal chief, Harnam Singh Khalsa, said here that a Sunday noon deadline for the arrest of Gurmit Ram Rahim, the chief of the heretical sect, would be strictly adhered to and the Sikh community will then decide its further course of action.

The Sikh clergy, which gave a 72-hour deadline to the Punjab government Thursday at its meeting at Talwandi Sabo near Bathinda, will meet again at the Akal Takht - the highest temporal seat of Sikhs - in the Golden Temple complex Sunday afternoon.

The Taksal chief said that the sect godman should appear at the Akal Takht in the presence of the five high priests of Sikh religion and seek forgiveness for posing as the 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh in a photograph. 'This will satisfy the Sikhs,' he added.

Top police officers confirmed that no untoward incident was reported from any part of the state Saturday.

The Damdami Taksal, a hardline Sikh group based at Chowk Mehta near Amritsar, also accused the sect chief of being responsible for the violence in Punjab this week.

'The dera has been exposed. Its chief is responsible for the present mess. He is a threat for all religions. Our information is that all campuses of the sect are collecting weapons of all kinds to create more trouble,' he said.

In an apparent toning down from his earlier stand, the sect chief had Friday released a CD saying that he could never think of showing disrespect to the Sikh guru or try to dress like him. He said a misunderstanding had been created.

One person was killed and nearly 100 injured in sectarian violence across Punjab, especially the cotton-rich Malwa belt in south Punjab, with members of the Sikh community and sect followers taking to streets.

The Taksal chief told reporters here that the only solution was that the central and the Punjab and Haryana governments should ensure that the sect godman is arrested.

'He is not admitting to his mistake and only trying to mislead people,' Khalsa said.

The Taksal leaders demanded that the cases registered against their top functionaries by the Punjab government for inciting violence be immediately withdrawn and no one be arrested.

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