Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Dalit Sena puts off agitation

Harjinder Sidhu

Bhucho Mandi (Bathinda), July 21

FOLLOWING A written assurance from Sant Samaj chief Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, the Dalit Sena has decided to postpone its agitation over the alleged discrimination being meted out to Dalits by the Dera Baba Roomi Wala located here.

It may be recalled that Punjab Dalit Sena president Kiranjit Singh Gehri had given an ultimatum to the district and police authorities to get the discrimination stopped by July 20 failing which they would hold a demonstration and rally on July 21. Since then, the district administration remained on tenterhooks and the district police had taken measures to prevent the situation from taking an ugly turn.

As per the customs of this dera, Dalits are not allowed to take 'langar' or offer 'ardas' along side others. Dera chief Baba Khem Singh and other disciples of the sect term the customs decades old and maintain that these cannot be changed.

Today, as per the programme, a large number of Dalit Sena activists led by Gehri gathered at Gurdwara Bhai Jiwan Singh, where Gehri and others spoke against the practice.

The speakers on the occasion warned if these practices were not stopped they would launch a statewide agitation for registration of a criminal case against the dera people under the Untouchability Act.

However, after Gehri got a written message from Sant Samaj chief Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi through Akali Dal leader Ravi Inder, General Secretary Gurdeep Singh, he announced to postpone the agitation. Bedi has assured to resolve the issue amicably and justified the demands of the Dalit Sena.

Sources revealed that Gehri, who is considered close to Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, had yesterday held a closed door meeting with a senior police officer at Chandigarh, who assured Gehri an audience with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who is one of the followers of the dera.

Source: Hindustan Times, July 21, 2004


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