One person was killed and more than 50 were injured after tens of thousands of angry Sikhs, many armed with their ceremonial kirpan daggers, went on the rampage across Punjab and the neighbouring state of Haryana.
India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, appealed for calm and put the army on standby as the central government sent thousands of police to the region.
The rioting broke out after the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, a non-profit group that combines social work with spirituality, placed an advert in a local newspaper showing its leader, Baba Gurmeet Singh, allegedly impersonating Sikhism's 10th and last guru, an act most Sikhs would consider deeply offensive.
The advert appeared to show Gurmeet Singh administering a special nectar, known as Jaam-e-Insaan, to his followers while wearing the same long robes worn by the guru, Guru Gobind Singh - who was also known to baptise believers with nectar. Unlike Islam, where picturing the Prophet Mohamed is strictly forbidden, most Sikhs believe it is permissible to picture their gurus, and families often place a picture of the religion's founding father, Guru Nanak Dev, somewhere in their homes. But pretending to be a guru is strictly forbidden.
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Not cartoons this time - but just as irrational
From The Independent