Punjab, Haryana governments asked to ensure sectarian pace

New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) The central government Friday asked the Punjab and Haryana governments to take steps to contain the sectarian flare-up between Sikhs and followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect.

Officials said the home ministry has asked the state governments to initiate peace talks between the groups involved.

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In fresh advisories, similar to ones issued two days ago, the state governments were told to take all “possible effective steps and measures for maintenance of peace and communal harmony in the state”.

The directives cautioned the two states to “ensure that the sectarian stand-off between the followers of the two sects within the Sikh religion is not exploited by anti-social elements”, said home ministry officials.

The advisories came after the home ministry had alerted Punjab and Haryana as also Rajasthan Wednesday evening and asked them to keep their security forces ready to stem any untoward situation over the sectarian flare-up.

One person was killed Thursday in a clash in Sangrur district in Punjab, while around two dozen people were injured in sporadic incidents of violence involving attacks on properties of the Dera sect by Sikh protesters.

The violence was triggered when Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh purportedly appeared in the attire of the 10th Sikh guru in an advertisement in some newspapers.