Uneasy calm in Haryana, toll 36

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Aug 2017 08:59:31


Aug 26,


AN uneasy calm prevailed in Haryana, on Saturday even as the death toll in the violence following Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s conviction in a rape case climbed up to 36 The Army prepared to get the sect headquarters in Sirsa vacated amid a clamour for the sacking of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for his Government’s failure to tackle the situation.

At least eight columns of the Army surrounded the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters near Sirsa town where thousands of sect followers were holed up. Major General Rajpal Punia, the General Officer Commanding of 33 Division who visited Sirsa on Saturday, told media that the Army had no immediate plan to enter the Dera campus. The officer said he would talk to the Dera management and ask them to vacate the campus peacefully. State authorities are now trying to ensure that there are no untoward incidents on Sunday or on Monday when the special CBI court judge will be flown to the district jail in Sunaria in Rohtak for pronouncing the quantum of sentence.

“Thirty-six people have died, out of which six casualties are in Sirsa and remaining are in Panchkula,” DGP B S Sandhu said this evening. Thirteen persons from among the 36 deceased have been identified, the police said. Haryana Police also recovered an AK 47, five pistols and other weapons from two vehicles that were part of the cavalcade accompanying the Dera chief to court on Friday, while two sedition cases were also registered against followers, including private security guards. No untoward incident was reported from neighbouring Punjab also as security forces conducted flag marches and kept a tight vigil in the sensitive areas. Curfew was also relaxed at some places where it had been imposed.

Facing flak over the failure to check violence by Dera Sacha Sauda followers, the Haryana Government has suspended the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Panchkula, alleging that a “defective” order by him allowed the crowd build-up in the district. The Haryana Government was also forced to terminate the services of the state’s Deputy Advocate General, Gurdas Salwara, for allegedly “accompanying” Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh yesterday after the sect head’s conviction.

The Opposition stepped up its attack with former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda demanding the dismissal of Manohar Lal Khattar Government for its failure to handle the situation at Panchkula.The authorities have also ordered security forces to crack down on 36 Dera campuses, known as ‘Naam Charcha Ghar’, across the State, including the sprawling 800-acre Sirsa headquarters and get them vacated. Two Dera premises in Kurukshetra district were sealed on Saturday.

Chief Secretary D S Dhesi termed as incorrect media reports alleging that special treatment was being extended to the Dera chief, who has been lodged in district jail in Sunaria in Rohtak, asserting that he was being treated as an “ordinary prisoner”. He also informed that ‘Z plus’ security cover which was given to Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had been withdrawn the moment he was convicted.

As many as 552 persons have been arrested in connection with violence and further investigations are underway. “The law-and-order situation is being maintained and constantly monitored in the entire state. As many as 101 companies of paramilitary have been deployed in the state, six columns of the Army have been deployed in Panchkula and four in Sirsa. Curfew has been relaxed in Panchkula and Sirsa,” Chief Secretary Dhesi said.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a high-level meeting in Delhi to review the security situation in the country, particularly Haryana, and was told that the situation in the State was under control, officials said.Emerging from the high-level meeting, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said the director general of Haryana Police had assured the Central Government that the situation was under control now.