View Photo Gallery of Private Dera Protest
Turlock, California (KP) – Controversy seems to haunt the pseudo-Baba from Pehova who used to be known as the ‘Shiromani Sant' of Punjab. Instead of being greeted by flowers, and chariots, he is being jeered and taunted for not publicly addressing the serious charges of sexual assault and rape.
After last week’s successful protest by the Northern California Sangat against pseudo-Baba Maan Sinh of Pehova, not a single program has been allowed to be held at any of California’s 40+ strong Gurdwaras. Gurdwara committees have declined and have stated they would not allow this fraud on their Panthic stages. Frustrated and embarrassed, his followers are now desperately trying to court private deras to accept him.
One such private dera is operated by the controversial Pritpal Singh, who is another self-styled Baba in the outskirts of the sleepy city of Turlock, California, about 100 miles east of San Francisco. Afraid of the protesting Sangat, his followers have begun to spread rumors that his programs are being canceled, but that did not work in their favor this weekend when protestors, again, showed up in full force at the private dera in Turlock. Organizers stated that the protest rally was to show him that he was not welcome anywhere in California, “…not even in Turlock.”
The protestors came from all over Northern California, young and old, some dressed casualy, others in full Khalsa blue, carrying a Nishan Sahib and protest signs.
When the protesting Sangat arrived close to the dera, some of pseudo-Baba’s followers were already standing outside, as if they were already expecting opposition. The sangat quickly readied their signs and posters and beat a large nagara drum along with Jaikaras of “Bole so Nihal, Sat Sri Akal !”
A couple of Baba’s followers who were friendly and reasonable met with some of the protest organizers and asked what proof they had for the accusations against his Baba. “What proof do you want? Go ask Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh about the proof. He will tell you”, said one of the protest organizers. “Furthermore, we can bring one of the Bibis who the Baba molested in North America, but your Baba has to come open in the Sangat and face the media and the Bibi. Is your Baba willing to do that?” The obvious answer from his followers was a no.
Meanwhile, the pseudo-Baba’s singing that was heard from within the private dera had now become quiet after being challenged by the beat of the nagara and Jaikaras. The protesting Sangat began to peacefully and quietly walk towards the dera. Quickly the followers who were inside listening to the Baba began to pour out of the dera and towards the Sangat. Panthic Weekly staff witnessed the Sangat being threatened on several occasions. One Baba’s followers even attempted to pull out his kirpan as others tried to push the protestors. The Baba’s men also attempted to grab a hold of some of the protestor’s signs that stated he was a rapist and thug in an attempt to provoke a fight.
Baba’s main sponsor and chief follower, Manjit Virk, began yelling at the protestors and told them they were not even allowed on the public street. The protesters yelled back, “This is America not India, we have the full right to protest this ‘badmash’ (scoundrel).”
Realizing the protesting Sangat’s strength and commitment to protest, Virk then nervously dialed 911 and told the authorities that they were being ‘attacked’.
Within minutes, a rapid response S.W.A.T. unit along with officers from the local Sheriff’s department arrived on the scene and separated the protestors and the Baba’s followers. Virk, now visibly frustrated, continued to complain to the Sheriff’s deputies for allowing the protest. The deputies chided Virk and explained that protestors “had the full right to assemble and do what they are doing” under the American constitution.
The Sheriff’s deputies, who were called by Maan Sinh’s supporters themselves, had now surrounded the scene. Five rapid response S.W.A.T. units appeared with AR-15 rifles readied. The Baba’s followers tried to convince the police units that the Sangat was threatening them, and were in possession of guns and other weapons. The Sangat members met with police officers and assured them that they had come to peacefully protest a controversial ‘religious figure’ who is accused of serious crimes, including rape and sexual assault. The officers, satisfied by the Sangat’s explanation told them to continue their protest and not block the traffic in front of the complex.
Annoyed and feeling helpless, the Baba’s followers inside the private dera began to hurl profanities and made lewd gestures at the protestors. Most of the male followers of Baba were now outside yelling at the protesting Sangat. The Sangat was called 'Narakdharis' and 'hell-bound', for challenging their Baba. They continued with their lewd gestures and profanities. The Sangat, in discipline, kept their cool in the 105 plus degree heat, and continued their vociferous Jaikaras and drowned out the followers.
The Baba’s followers were now visibly irritated and asked the deputies to arrest the Sangat members for holding up signs against their fake “guru.” The deputies declined their request and informed them that the Sangat was following the law and had every legal right to assemble and protest.
Inside the meeting hall, the ‘ex-Shiromani Sant’ was left with only a handful of chelas, mostly women and children. Upon realizing that there was hardly anyone left to listen to his performance, the Baba cut short his ‘diwan’ and plans were made to extricate him from this dera away from the protesting Sangat.
The Sheriff’s department notified the Sangat, that the individual they were protesting has decided to leave the premises and asked for assurance that they would not block his departure.
The Baba’s close associates quickly filled cars with people and began to block the front of the dera so that the Baba could be kept out of view from the protesting Sangat. The Baba was then surrounded and rushed out of the main hall into a waiting car for a quick getaway. In embarrassment, he kept his face turned away from the protestors and the dozens of posters stating his sexual misadventures.
The Sangat raised loud Jaikaras and slogans as Baba made his second escape within a week. Several vehicles escorted him and his close chelas and within a minute left the scene.
The remaining followers also began to leave the dera premises, a handful of others continued to shout their vulgarities and vent their frustrations at the protesting Sangat. The Sheriff’s Department then approached the Sangat and requested that the protest be concluded, and thanked them for being professional and orderly.
The Sangat concluded the protest with five loud Jaikaras, ending with the famous puratan saying “ਖਾਲਸਾ ਗੱਜੇ, ਲੰਡੀ ਬੱਚੀ ਭੱਜੇ, ਭੱਜਦੀ ਨੂੰ ਰਾਹ ਨਾ ਲੱਭੇ!” The Sangat afterwards went to the historic Gurdwara Sahib Stockton, known as the home of the Ghadarites where an Ardas was performed in front of Guru Granth Sahib Ji asking for the Chardikala of the Sikh Panth.
Not ready to face the public or the accusers
Since last week, a prominent Sikh leader, Bhai Karnail Singh Khalsa of the Gurmat Chetna Lehar, has attempted to setup a public meeting either over ‘Humsafar’ radio or at a Gurdwara Sahib between the Baba and the accusers. Continually, the Baba has declined, even though some of his followers had given their assurances at the SFO airport that given the gravity of the situation, such a meeting would be held soon. Panthic Weekly was informed that several of his followers upon knowing that the Baba was not willing to present his case and clear his name have distanced themselves and stated they no longer associate with him.
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