Some months ago, I remember reading about two opposite factions of Sikhs fighting it out in Punjab. While one faction, known as the Khalsa panth, comprises the majority of Sikhs, including those who are powerful and/or rich, the other, known as the Dera Sacha Sauda, has broken off from the main Akal Takht and is under the stewardship of a gentleman with the curious name of Ram Rahim Singh. He is supposed to have secured the support of the poor and the downtrodden.The first incident occurred when he presented himself before the people wearing a dress that resembled the attire of Guru Gobind Singh, the last Sikh Guru. Riots and trouble broke out between the two factions in Punjab. However, soon thereafter, RRS apologised and the matter died a well-deserved death.
Now, RRS has re-surfaced in a suburb (Mulund) in Mumbai. His presence was enough to provoke large crowds of main-stream Sikhs to come out in protest on the roads and shout slogans to the others to have RRS thrown out of the metropolitan city. This was countered by the follower-bodyguards of the leader by firing at the crowd, in which Barkarar Singh (which, to crack a PJ, means sustaining, or permanent), a local Sikh, died.
The death of an innocent (or not-so-innocent) protester has been followed by even more rioting and agitations like the famous "rasta roko" and "rail roko" in Mulund and nearby areas yesterday. Three men of the Dera have already been booked for firing and one of them has confessed to have actually fired at Barkarar Singh. He has been arrested.
Now, why am I writing this? This is because everyone says religion is all-redeeming and can save lives. So why is it that the Sikhs, mostly known for their peace-loving attitudes, fighting with their own brethren and even killing them? It is not as if the DSS people have denounced the gurus or the Holy Guru Granth Saheb. The two factions are as real as any other differences that occur between people of the same religion ... and the two factions must learn to co-exist peacefully with each other.
I also strictly feel that the administration of Punjab, its CM, etc. who are also contributing to the mess, should KEEP AWAY from the essentially religious problem.