A Shiromani Akali Dal lawmaker Friday said that the party made a wrong decision by asking the Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seats of Sikhs, to pardon Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a 2007 blasphemy case. The Takht had pardoned Ram Rahim in 2015 inviting a backlash from the community.
“The party feels it was wrong decision. It is not needed to debate it again and again,” said SAD legislator Parminder Singh Dhindsa.
He was in Amritsar to pay obeisance at Golden Temple. Dhindsa, who was finance minister in the Akali government in 2015, is now front runner for the party Lok Sabha ticket from Sangrur.
Several leaders have quit the SAD in recent months alleging that party president Sukhbir Singh Badal asked the Akal Takht Jathedar to pardon Ram Rahim back 2015.
The Akali Dal has always denied the allegation.
While Dhindsa defended the partyu, his father and Rajya Sabha MP, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, had demanded Sukhbir’s resignation for taking “the controversial decision”.
The senior Dhindsa had also advised his son to not contest the Lok Sabha elections on party ticket.
“I am not willing to contest the election but if the party asks me to then I will,” Dhindsa said.
He also hinted that he would not hesitate in seeking support from the followers of the Sirsa-based dera.
“Party stand is very clear that we will not seek votes from Dera. However, as politicians and candidate, it is our duty to seek votes from every person of every religion”.
Punjab had witnessed clashes between the Sikh activists and the followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda after the 2007 blasphemy incident. The Akal Takht had later issued a hukamnama asking the Sikh community to boycott the dera and its chief Ram Rahim.
Just about three weeks later, the Akal Takht had revoked its decision on the grounds that it was rejected by the Sikh community.
“Keeping in view the sentiments of the community, the Sikh clergy decided to annul the earlier edict as the Dera chief is not a real saint and his apology is not acceptable to the Akal Takht,” the Sikh clergy had said.
The same day, the SGPC had appealed to Sikhs, through advertisements in vernacular newspapers, to support the Gurmata (decision) to pardon the Sirsa dera head.