The Ongoing Turf War Over Land and Resources Between Two Groups of Budha Dal

January 2008 Balbir Singh alleges more shots fired at him

Nihang chief escapes attack as bloody feud goes on

Manjot Singh

At some point of time, the Sikh community will have to take a more serious note of such blood  feud running through many Nihang Singh sects where fights over property have led to murders, bloody fights, use of guns and swords by people dressed in traditional Khalsa robes — images   that go worldwide hardly inspiring the world to look at the community for its suaveness and enterprising spirit.

The ongoing turf war over land and resources between two groups of Budha Dal led to a bloo dy attack on the convoy of Dal chief Baba Balbir Singh near Baghi Bandar village in Bathinda on Tuesday. A security guard was injured as some nihangs fired at the cavalcade. Balbir Singh himself escaped unhurt. Injured gunman Paramjit Singh was later admitted at a hospital in Talwandi Sabo and was stated to be out of danger. Thousands of nihangs in Punjab are affiliated to the two groups and property worth crores is at stake. Police have got into the act and a case of an attempt to murder was registered against rival faction chief Surjit Singh and 23 others.

The convoy was attacked from a liquor vend while Balbir Singh and his supporters were on way to Muktsar to attend the Magha Mela. Balbir Singh was traveling in a bullet proof vehicle. Budha Dal had split in June last year following the death of Baba Santa Singh, a controversial figure himself. Both groups elected separate chiefs and sought recognition and backing from powers that be. Power struggle between Balbir Singh and Surjit Singh has been so intense that four member of Baba Balbir Singh group were killed in a clash with their rivals two year back at Baba Budha Dal premises in Patiala. Among those killed included Baba Assa Singh, father of Balbir Singh. Now, Baba Balbir Singh has demanded Z-plus security cover for himself. He has already filed a writ petition seeking such a security cover.

Kotkapura Nihangs elect Surjit Singh chief; Baba’s bhog peaceful
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura (Faridkot), May 18
Jathedar Surjit Singh was elected the 14th Jathedar of the Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal (Panjwan Takht) with a voice vote in his absence during the antim ardas and bhog of late Baba Santa Singh held at Gurdwara Dasmi Patshahi here today.

However, in his absence, Jathedar Joginder Singh “Rakba” will continue as the acting Jathedar of the body. His dastarbandi ceremony was held on the occasion.

Jathedar Surjit Singh, who is facing cases of murder, has gone underground. He was allegedly involved in the massacre of four members of Baba Balbir Singh’s family. Balbir heads the rival group of Nihangs.

Since a heavy police force was deployed here, Jathedar Surjit Singh could not enter the town fearing arrest. No vehicle was allowed to pass through the road leading to the gurdwara. Nihangs were frisked to prevent entry of firearms into the gurdwara.

Talking to The Tribune soon after the “dastarbandi” ceremony, Jathedar Joginder Singh appealed to all groups of Nihangs to unite together and protect the religion that, according to him, was in danger due to the entry of certain “bad elements” in the Panth. He lashed out at the state government alleging that it was trying to divide their community for vested interests.

A resolution was passed by various groups of the Sant Samaj, demanding from the state government withdrawal of all cases registered against Jathedar Surjit Singh. They claimed that the police had registered false cases against him.

The religious heads of Nirmal Akhara Hardwar, Nanaksar Kaleran, Mastuana, Rarha Sahib, Guru Nanak Dal, Tarna Dal, Baba Bidhi Chand Dal, Damdami Taksal and at least 30 other deras were present on the occasion. Few members of the SGPC, local leaders of the SAD and members of Baba Santa Singh’s family, including nephew Surinder Singh Babbar also attended the bhog.

Meanwhile, most of the Nihangs here were of the view that the Nihangs in the days to come may come out aggressively to free their deras that were under the control of the group led by Baba Balbir Singh.

 

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