A six-minute video of Punjabi folk singer and Congress candidate from Faridkot constituency Mohammad Sadiq, in which he is purportedly seen singing paeans to Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, went viral on social media Sunday. Singh is presently in jail in connection with murder and rape cases. The date the video was shot is unknown.
In the video, Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is purportedly seen sitting on a stage amid thousands of followers in what appears to be a dera congregation and Sadiq appears to be chanting the Dera followers’ slogan — ‘Dhan Dhan Satguru Tera hi Aasra’ (‘You are the only one’, referring to Ram Rahim).
Sadiq then starts singing and hailing the Dera head. “Jungle baale ghum ghum vekhe, mere andaron aawaz hai aayi… beparvaah shahanshah didar de.. sadd ke main jaavan sachhi sarkaar de…(I roamed in jungles when a voice came from inside, you are the biggest star, you are the real government),” he sings in the clip.
The video has been shared multiple times on WhatsApp groups. One person commented: “Congressi vi Akaliyaan to ghat nahi…Premi Mohammad Sadiq nu dekho…guru da gungaan karde hoye… (Congressmen are no less than Akalis…watch ‘Premi’ Mohammad Sadiq…singing paeans to Dera head).” Dera followers call themselves ‘premis’.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Sadiq said he had no relation — either personal or professional — with the Dera head now. “The video is maybe of 2010, 2011 or 2012. I do not even remember the exact year. I never went to the Dera head to ask for votes, but only to sing on their request as it is my profession. The song that I am singing hailing the Dera chief was also given by Dera people. I did not write it. Had I really asked for votes from Dera, I would not have lost Assembly polls in 2017 from Jaito where there were considerable Dera followers. Premis should have voted for me then but I lost. This video going viral now is clear propaganda,” said Sadiq, who had won in the 2012 polls from Bhadaur, Barnala.
Faridkot was the heart of Sri Guru Granth Sahib sacrilege incidents and protests that rocked Punjab in 2015, leading to a massive defeat for SAD-BJP in the state Assembly polls in 2017. Two protesters were killed in police firing at Behbal Kalan in October 2015. At least 23 Dera Sacha Sauda followers have been arrested till now by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by DIG Ranbir Singh Khatra for three sacrilege incidents in Moga, Bathinda and Faridkot districts.
Politicians seeking Dera Sacha Sauda’s support had snowballed into a major issue when the highest Sikh seat Akal Takht had declared 39 politicians including those from SAD, Congress and AAP, as ‘tankhaiya’ (who had to undergo religious punishment for breaching Sikh maryaada) for allegedly seeking votes from the Dera ahead of Assembly polls in 2017. At least 10 were from Congress, but it did not include Sadiq then.
The Badals were also in the eye of the storm for allegedly facilitating a pardon to the Dera head in a blasphemy case of 2007, later withdrawn by Akal Takht.