Bathinda court issues arrest warrant against Dera chief

Nathinda, India - A court here Wednesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh for hurting religious sentiments of the Sikh community.

Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate A.L. Kitchi issued the warrants on the basis of a May 20 case registered against the Dera chief, in which he was charged under Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The judge directed that the Punjab police will have to take the permission of the state government before arresting him.

The court order came even as a letter from the Dera head reached the protesting Sikh community (Sant Samaj) leaders in Chandigarh.

Though contents of the letter were not made public, sources in the Sant Samaj said that it was a re-worded apology to the Sikh community.

Sikh leaders were meeting in Chandigarh to deicide their further course of action after the latest letter.

They have been protesting at Mohali near Chandigarh since Tuesday seeking immediate arrest of Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh for committing blasphemy by portraying himself like 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh.

The Dera chief had apologized to the Sikh gurus for his 'unintentional act' in May after the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, issued a deadline to his sect to wind up all its activities in Punjab by May 27.

The Sikh leadership also asked Sikhs to socially boycott the Dera head and his sect followers.

The Dera-Sikh controversy had led to widespread violence in Punjab for over a week in May.

Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh lives in the sprawling headquarters of the sect near Sirsa in neighbouring Haryana, 100 km from here.

The Punjab police will have to seek the help of their counterparts in Haryana to arrest him from his fortified headquarters even as millions of his supporters are expected to oppose his arrest.