Today, May 25 is the death anniversary of Sant Ramanand of Dera Ballan in Jalandhar. He succumbed to the mindless shoot-out by some fanatic militants on May 24, 2009 in a Guru Ravidass Gurudwara in Vienna (Austria). Sant Ramanand adorned an important position in the Dera Ballan hierarchy. With his concerted efforts and increasing acceptability in the followers of the Dera, Sant Ramanand had become a known personality not only in Punjab but also abroad particularly in the dalit community at large. His immense contribution to the progress and development of Dera Ballan was duly recognized and appreciated by the successive Sants who headed the Dera. Sant Ramanand was much respected in the dalit community for his great zeal in making the community alive and vibrant not only spiritually, with the teachings and philosophy of Guru Ravidasss, but also socially and educationally. He was a preacher and Parcharak of standing with a large and dedicated following. I am writing this as a tribute to the memory of Sant Ramanand on his Shaheedi Day.
The aftermath of Sant Ramanand’s shaheedi was tragic and violent. The followers of Dera Ballan and the community in general stood up spontaneously. It was felt that the Sikhs were jealous and not happy with the visible progress and forthcoming standing of dalits. These developments generated avoidable friction between the dalits and fundamentalist Sikhs. The further actions of Dera Ballan in floating “Ravidassia Dharam” and launching their religious Granth “Amritvani” aggravated the situation and adversely affected the social fabric of society. The dalit community was further divided. Meanwhile, the vested interests both in the religious realm and also politics worked overtime to take advantage of the situation. Dera Ballan suffered the crisis of genuine and effective leadership. The community is harping in the dark. It seems the sacrifice of Sant Ramanad has gone waste. The current scenario in which the community is condemned to rest was not the vision of Sant Ramanand. Dera Ballan with its very potent following and the community at large should consider and think to set the house in order. It will be a big tribute to the memory of Sant Ramanand.