Punjab bandh called by Sikh groups fails to evoke response

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Chandigarh, Sept 30: Barring stray incidents, normal life was on Wednesday unaffected in Punjab due to the bandh called by some Sikh groups against Akal Takht's decision to pardon Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for his alleged blasphemous act in 2007.

Most of the commercial establishments, shops, schools were open while rail and road traffic was not affected due to the four-hour long bandh called by by Akali Dal (United) and Akali Dal (Mann), reports quoting officials said here.

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Most of the Sikh hardline groups, inclduing Dal Khalsa and Damdami Taksal, did not participate in the bandh called by SAD (Amritsar) head Simranjit Singh Mann and SAD (united) head Mokham Singh.

In the wake of the bandh call, police rounded up at least 500 hardliners from different places to maintain law and order, officials said. Heavy police force, accompanied by black commandos, was deployed in strength at all the strategic locations across the state, officials said.

A report from Ludhiana and Amritsar said that all main markets, banks, factories, local transport were functioning normally. DIG Ludhiana police range A K Mittal said the situation in Khanna and Ludhiana rural was peaceful.

"There was no report of any untoward incident in his range," he added.

However, a report from Moga said that many shops and commercial establishments remained shut. Police resorted to cane-charge in Moga after a group of about 50 activists of various Sikh outfits forced shopkeepers to close their shops.

The shops were open in the morning but after the police used force, shopkeepers decided to pull down their shutters to protect their properties from getting damaged.

"Police force has been deployed in front of Gurdwaras at Dharmakot, Kot Ise Khan, Moga, Baghapurana and Nihal Singh Wala," said Harjit Singh Pannu, Superintendent Police (D) Moga. Faridkot police also conducted raid at the residence of All India Sikh Students Federation president Karnail Singh Peermohammed. 

In Phagwara, police detained a senior Akali Dal (Mann) leader Rajinder Singh Fauji and a state executive committee member of SAD (A) as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, in a significant development, a meeting of nine radical Sikhs bodies at Phagwara declared to boycott the five Sikh high priests of five Sikh takhts for their "unilateral and unwarranted" pardon given to Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh.

Addressing it, various speakers declared that the five Sikh high priests won't be allowed to address any religious function in future in Phagwara area as part of the boycott.

They flayed the unwarranted interference in Sikh religious affairs by the ruling Badal family and RSS.

At Fatehgarh Sahib, police laid seize around Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann's Kila Harnam Singh residence at Talania village.

Meanwhile, former Akal Takht 'Jathedar' Joginder Singh Vedanti was critical of giving pardon to the Dera chief for his alleged impersonation of Guru Gobind Singh.

PTI

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