Bargari morcha against sacrilege being withdrawn on December 9

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, December 6: The Bargari Insaaf Morcha against sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib that rocked Punjab’s religio-political discourse since it was launched on June 1 last is finally to be withdrawn on Sunday next on December 9 following acceptance of the demands by the Punjab government in principle.

While this was hinted at by Morcha spokesman and Takht Damdama Sahib parallel Jathedar  Baljit Singh Daduwal during his daily address to the congregation at Bargari today, the same was confirmed by other leaders associated with this agitation who were aghast at the sudden announcement that otherwise was supposed to be made on Sunday. The withdrawal of  agitation by way of indefinite dharna had been discussed by these leaders two days back.

The three main demands included conclusive probe into cases of sacrilege, arrest of culprits of sacrilege and police officials responsible for firing at Kotkapura and Behbal and release of Sikh political prisoners who have completed the sentence  but continue to be in jail under TADA. The four police officials named in the Behbal Kalan FIR have obtained stay from the Punjab and Haryana High Court and further action is subject to vacation of stay.

Sources mail that while the two demands relating to sacrilege and police firing have already been accepted with most of the cases have been traced and culprits arrested and police officials named in the FIR, the Capt Amarinder Singh government is moving a bill in the winter session of the Assembly to extend the parole period from the present 64 days to proposed four months. The demand is to extend the same to six months.

It may be mentioned here the deadlock between the state government and the Bargari leaders were broken when Baba Sewa Singh of Rampur Kherewale took the initiative at the political level on the day foundation stone was laid for Kartarpur Sahib corridor on November 26. Baba Sewa Singh was present along with other Sant Samaj leaders. This group had staged a boycott when Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal had started her speech.

The meeting took place recently in Chandigarh that was attended by Rural and Urban Development Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Cooperation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa. Baba Sewa Singh was present along with Bargari Morcha leaders.

The agitation was launched by Akal Takht parallel acting Jathedar Dhian Singh Mand supported by various Sikh groups and parties including United Akali Dal, Akali Dal 1920, Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Dal Khalsa. Mand have been sitting on dharna since June 1 in the grain market of Bargari, the scene of first incidence of sacrilege in October 2015 during the Parkash Singh Badal regime. Two persons were killed as the police fired on protesters at Behbal Kalan next to Bargari who were sitting on dharna peacefully.

Several inconclusive rounds of talks had been held over the period.

It is pertinent to mention that Bargari witnessed two massive mobilisations of people on October 7 and October 14 that was unprecedented in the recent history of Punjab.

Akali Dal patron Parkash Singh Badal and his son and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal had been slamming this morcha as threat to peace and harmony in the state. They dubbed Mand and others as agents of the Pakistan spy agency ISI and also the Congress.

This morcha has hit hard the Akali Dal in general and the Badal family in particular. Sukhbir was the deputy chief minister incharge of home department at the time of sacrilege.

All those arrested in these cases of sacrilege belong to Dera Sacha Sauda.

The Badals had negotiated electoral support with Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh by securing his pardon from Akal Takht in September 2015. The Sikh clergy had directed boycott of this Dera in 2007 in reaction of act of Ram Rahim that was considered to be blasphemous by the Sikhs.

The Badal duo  have been questioned by the special investigation team constituted by the state government on sacrilege

Revolt by senior  Akali Dal leaders hit the party beginning with resignation by Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhinsda from all party posts. This was followed by leaders from Majha including Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, MP, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan.

Daduwal said some minister from the state government would make the announcement of acceptance of demands at Bargari stage on Sunday following which the formal decision would be taken to withdraw the morcha.

However, he has given enough hint of acceptance of demand saying, “The Morcha is heading towards successful withdrawal after getting  the demands accepted”.

Mand has been under pressure to evolve some political dispensation from this agitation that he has successfully resisted so far.

This has been the longest and the most peaceful agitation in Punjab in recent times on religio-political issues relating to Sikh domain.

Jagtar Singh


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