Jammu observes Sikh shutdown call too


Jammu : This winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir observed a one-day shutdown Tuesday in response to a general strike called by the Akal Takht – the highest temporal authority of Sikhism – to protest the actions of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief that hurt the religious sentiments of the community.

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Shops and business establishments in Jammu remained closed. Traffic was thin as angry Sikh youths roamed the streets brandishing swords and batons, shouting slogans and calling for stern action against Dera chief Gurmit Ram Rahim.

The sect leader had last week attired himself like the 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh, offending the sensibilities of Sikhs and resulting in large-scale violence in Punjab.

"We want him arrested and all his units to be closed forthwith," said Balwinder Singh, a Sikh youth at Satwari area, where a number of tyres were set afire to enforce the strike.

"This is our first step and if action is not taken against Sacha Sauda units and leaders, we might be forced to take stronger measures," he asserted.

All Sikh dominated areas, including Digiana, Nanak Nagar, Rehari, Resham Ghar Colony and Miran Sahib, wore a deserted look. Most Hindus also shut down their businesses for the day.

No incidents of violence have been reported in the city so far.

Of Jammu's one million population, nearly 20 percent comprises Sikhs.