Tension as Sarbat Khalsa foiled in Punjab town; leaders detained

Talwandi Sabo (Punjab), Dec 8 (IANS) Tension prevailed on Thursday in and around Talwandi Sabo town in Bathinda district after authorities foiled an attempt by Sikh hardliners to hold a ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ (Sikh congregation) here.

Top leaders of various radical Sikh organisations were taken into custody by Punjab Police at Singhpura village near here on Thursday to stop them from moving towards the Sarbat Khalsa venue, an agricultural plot spread over 13 acres.

Sikh radicals claimed over 200 leaders were detained by the police.

These leaders included Mohkam Singh, Simranjit Singh Mann, Dhian Singh Mand, Amarjit Singh Daduwal and others.

Following the detentions, hundreds of activists blocked the main road in Talwandi Sabo on Thursday afternoon, demanding their release.

Various radical Sikh organisations and leaders had called for the ‘Sarbat Khalsa’.

Hundreds of people, carrying swords, spears and other traditional weapons, were able to reach the venue even though nearly 5,000 security personnel, including those from Punjab Police, paramilitary forces and Rapid Action Force, had cordoned off the area.

The Sikh radicals had, on Wednesday, begun an ‘Akhand Path’ (uninterrupted recital of Sikh scriptures) in a modified bus at the venue. The prayers ended on Thursday.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said on Wednesday that his government will not allow holding of the ‘Sarbat Khalsa’.

Citing law and order in Punjab, Badal said: “A handful of self-styled leaders are hell bent on holding the Sikh congregation to hatch conspiracies to derail development and peace and push the state back to turbulent times.”