Dera follower held after eight injured in clash with Sikhs


Sirsa (Haryana) : A follower of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect was arrested at Mallawala village near here Tuesday after a clash between Dera followers and Sikh community members, in which gunshots were fired, leaving eight people injured, police said.

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Dera follower Jeet Singh was arrested for allegedly firing from a 12-bore gun. Police also booked two of his relatives.

Among the injured were five policemen, including three from the Rapid Action Force stationed in this district to ensure peace between dera followers and members of the Sikh community.

The injured were admitted to the government civil hospital here, 300 km from state capital Chandigarh. They were reported to be out of danger.

The trouble at Mallawala village began when Dera followers started their prayers in the open despite an order by the district administration not to do so. Some Sikhs objected to Dera followers putting up loudspeakers and chanting prayers.

The tension rose, leading to the clash during which a Dera follower reportedly fired from his 12-bore gun.

Tension also spread beyond the village to surrounding areas in Haryana and Punjab after news of the clash spread.

There had been similar scenes of violence about 10 days ago when a stone-pelting mob of Sikhs attacked the convoy of Dera chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh at a village close to Mallawala.

The sect and the Sikh community have been in confrontational mode since the Dera chief portrayed himself as the 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh in May this year. This had led to violent protests in Punjab.

The Sikh community gave a call for a complete boycott of Dera followers in Punjab and sought the closure of Dera campuses in that state. Sikh leaders are demanding the arrest of the Dera chief for blasphemy.