Chandigarh : The Akal Takht – the highest temporal seat of Sikhism – Wednesday directed Sikhs to conduct a peaceful protest march Thursday against recent actions of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect against their religion.
On the eve of the protest march – to be held from Gurudwara Jyoti Sarup at Fatehgarh Sahib, 45 km from here, to the city – the Akal Takht issued fresh directives to Sikhs not to do anything unlawful.
"The march will be led by 11 leaders of the Sikh community who will proceed to Chandigarh. It should be kept peaceful. No one should carry or show any firearms or traditional weapons during the rally," the Akal Takht directive said.
Hardline Sikh groups and thousands of their supporters had started gathering at Fatehgarh Sahib – a religious town where two sons of 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh had made a sacrifice during Mughal emperor Aurangzeb's rule.
The hardliners are seeking direct confrontation with the sect chief and are seeking his arrest. They also want a complete ban on all his deras.
The delegation leading the protest march will submit memorandums to governors of Punjab and Haryana in Chandigarh demanding action against Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh for hurting the religious sentiments of Sikh community recently by portraying himself like Guru Gobind Singh.
The Akal Takht had Tuesday virtually rejected the 'half-hearted' apology given by the dera to the Sikh gurus for blasphemy of their religion.
The Akal Takht, in an earlier hukumnama (edict) May 20 had asked the dera to vacate all its campuses in Punjab and close its activities in the state by May 27. The dera did not do so and the deadline passed.
The Sikh clergy Tuesday 'softened' their stand even as they rejected the dera apology, saying that Sikhs should maintain peace.
The Akal Takht directive for Thursday's protest march was read out to the community at Harmandir Sahib (abode of god) – the sanctum sanctorum inside the Golden Temple complex in Sikh holy city Amritsar.
"We appeal to all Sikhs to remain calm and maintain peace at all costs," the directive said.
Security at Fatehgarh Sahib and the highway leading to Chandigarh was beefed up by the Punjab police and paramilitary forces. The police were put on alert in Chandigarh too.