Akal Takht virtually rejects Dera apology


Amritsar : After daylong hectic meetings and confusion, the Akal Takht – the highest temporal seat of Sikhism – Tuesday virtually rejected the apology given by the Dera Sacha Sauda sect.

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In a statement issued by five head priests of Sikhs after their meeting at the Akal Takht here, the Sikh clergy clearly stated: "A feeling from the heart was paramount for an apology. If the feeling is not right, such an apology is not even acceptable to the gurus."

The statement virtually rejected the sect apology for "blaspheming" the Sikh religion even though it did not specifically say so.

The Akal Takht said that its protest against Dera chief Gurmit Ram Rahim would continue and it will press for the closure of all deras of the sect in Punjab.

The dera had Sunday issued an apology to 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh, whom the dera chief tried to imitate at a recent function.

The Sikh clergy described the dera chief as an "egoistic and clever man". They said that he was a coward who hid behind his followers to save himself after being cornered over his action that hurt Sikh sentiments.

The meeting of the Sikh high priests started Tuesday afternoon and the statement came only in the evening.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh and several religious leaders earlier met top Sikh priests inside the Golden Temple complex Tuesday and handed over a copy of the dera chief's apology.

Agnivesh said he was hopeful that the Sikh clergy and the community would show large-heartedness and accept the apology in the larger interest of Punjab and peace.

While asking the Sikh community to follow the path of peace shown by gurus, the statement said that all campuses of the dera should close in Punjab. It said that the protest programme of May 31, as scheduled earlier, to march to Chandigarh would be carried out.

The statement reprimanded the dera chief to desist from his pretensions and not to hide his wrongdoings.

The Akal Takht said the social boycott call against the sect and its followers would continue. It said that peaceful protests against the dera would continue till all its campuses were "uprooted" from Punjab.

The statement urged Sikh followers of the sect to return to the Sikh religious fold.

It further stated that legal steps would be taken to bring the dera chief to book.