Curfew in Sirsa after Dera-Sikh clash

Authorities clamped curfew and issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC in Sirsa town of Haryana on Saturday after a clash between supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda and members of the Sikh community left at least a dozen people injured. The Sirsa administration has requisitioned 15 companies of paramilitary forces to maintain law and order.

The injured include a leader of the local Sikh community, Sant Gurmeet Singh Tirlokewale, who had to be rushed to hospital by Deputy Commissioner J. Ganesan in his official car. He is reported to be out of danger.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has also sounded an alert in neighbouring Mansa, Bathinda and Muktsar districts to prevent any backlash.

Rival groups clashed near Valmiki Chowk after their representatives had attended a “peace meeting” convened by the Deputy Commissioner to diffuse the tension that had been brewing over the week after a group of Sikhs waved black flags to Dera chief Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The apex religious authority of the Sikh community, Akal Takht, had excommunicated the Dera chief in 2007 for indulging in blasphemous acts of imitating Guru Gobind Singh.

According to some reports, the clash ensued after a group of Sikhs marched towards “Naam Charcha Ghar” where the Dera followers, known as “Premis”, had organised a prayer session. The Sikhs had been protesting against “partial approach” by the district authorities in registering cases after previous clashes.

While Dr. Ganesan appealed to the residents of Sirsa not to step out of their homes, police have been deployed all over the city with special vigil at the General Hospital and around the gurdwara.

All sub-divisional officers, tehsildars, block development and panchayat officers have been directed to stay in their offices and coordinate with the police. The officers have been directed to send daily reports to the district headquarters.

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