Police grill Dera sect chief, confiscate dress

Sirsa, India - The Punjab police yesterday confiscated the controversial dress that Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh had worn in likeness of a revered Sikh guru - the cause of the current stand-off between the Sikh community and Dera followers.

A Punjab police team arrived here yesterday morning to interrogate the sect chief who is accused of hurting religious sentiments of the Sikh community by attiring himself like 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh earlier this year.

The policemen took away the dress which Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh had worn and got himself photographed in.

The police interrogated him for four hours inside the Dera headquarters. Members of the team later said they were not satisfied with his replies. A Dera spokesperson said most of the questions put to their chief were trivial in nature.

Earlier, hundreds of sect followers gathered at its sprawling headquarters in this town as the police, which had registered a case against the Dera chief in May this year, arrived amid tight security provided by their Haryana counterparts. The 20-member team led by a deputy superintendent of police had come from Bathinda, 100km from here.

The Dera chief is under orders from the Punjab and Haryana High Court to join investigations in the case against him and to co-operate with the police.

Police had complained to the high court earlier this month that the sect chief did not co-operate when they visited the sect headquarters on July 30.

They said they were harassed at the sect headquarters and frisked by the sect’s private security guards.

The high court had directed the Dera management not to repeat these incidents with the police team.

The high court has extended till September the interim bail to the sect chief against arrest by the Punjab police.

He was formally arrested July 30 and immediately bailed out in this case.

The sect chief has sought anticipatory bail from the high court in another Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe regarding two murders and the alleged rape of a woman follower.

A charge sheet submitted by the CBI in a special court in Ambala had named the sect chief and other followers in the murders of former Dera manager Ranjit Singh in July 2002 and Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati in November 2001.

The charge sheet also named him in another case of rape of a woman inside the Dera headquarters.