Arvind Kejriwal along with Bhagwant Mann and Sucha Singh Chotepour visited Dera Ballan yesterday and met with its head. The Dera Ballan broke away from the Sikh community to form their own religion in 2010 following the 2009 Sikh protest in Vienna Austria. The protest resulted in a clash causing the Deputy of the Dera to be killed which resulted in prison sentences of 5 Sikhs.
The clash in Vienna led to unrest in the Doaba area of Punjab. The sect has developed their own scripture and flag following their separation from the Sikh religion. The sect was known to bow down to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji for more than a 100 years but the clashes resulted in a divide. The clash in Vienna resulted due to Anti-Sikh activities by the Dera leaders.
The visit to Dera Ballan follows Arvind Kejriwal’s visit to the Nirankari Dera. The Nirankari and Sikhs have great divisions since the 1978 killings of 13 Singhs from the Akhand Kirtaniye Jatha.
Arvind Kejriwal has given the Nirankari Dera credit for his major victory in Delhi Assembly elections. Kejriwal hopes with the support of Dera Ballan he can be competitive in the Doaba region. The Dera controls significant amount of Dalit votes which could make or break AAP in the region.
However, Sikhs are upset over the visit as many who support AAP stood with the party on not using religion for votes. It’ll be interesting whether the Dera visits by AAP leaders will turn away prominent Sikhs supporters.