‘Deras’ rise in Punjab, add fuel to fire

Followers of Guru Ravi Das Sabha, a Dalit, brandish swords, steel rods and bamboo sticks during a protest in Amritsar, May 26, 2009

Followers of Guru Ravi Das Sabha, a Dalit, brandish swords, steel rods and bamboo sticks during a protest in Amritsar, May 26, 2009

Punjab’s social and religious fabric is undergoing a gradual change – and divisions too – with the increasing influence of controversial deras, or sects, headed by self-styled godmen who have capitalised on the tensions between orthodox Sikhs and others.

The spotlight has swivelled to the deras once again with large parts of Punjab being held to ransom by followers of the Dera Sachh Khand protesting the attack on two of their leaders in Vienna. (see pictures…)

The attack itself was the result of a simmering undercurrent between the dominant Jat Sikh community of Punjab and the largely Dalit Sikh followers of the sect.

read more…

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