August 25, 2017: At least 29 people have been killed, including two women and a child, and more than 250 injured as violence erupted in Haryana and Punjab after Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted in a rape case by a CBI court in Panchkula today. The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on August 28.
The Dera Sacha Sauda described the court’s verdict as unjust, and said it would appeal against it. Appealing its followers for peace, Dera spokesperson Dilawar Insaan reiterated that the Dera Sacha Sauda is dedicated to the betterment of humanity. Army has been called out in Sirsa, where Dera headquarters is situated, to control the situation. Curfew has been clamped in the town and Internet services continue to remain suspended.
Scores of jawans, including 15,000 paramilitary personnel, have been deployed in the sensitive areas across Punjab and Haryana. Police used tear gas shells and fired in the air to disperse mobs who pelted stones and broke barricades in Panchkula. Mobs damaged vehicles on Zirakpur-Shimla road. Vehicles of media organisations were also attacked.
The power supply in Panchkula and Sirsa has been cut to stop use of the Internet through broadband. Haryana Chief Minister has said more columns of army have been requisitioned. The Dera followers set on fire a grid in Matti and Datewas villages of Mansa. The mob also set on fire a wooden shop near Baluana railway station near Malout in Mansa district. Curfew has been imposed in several districts.
In Punjab, curfew has been imposed in Patiala and Fazilka. In Fatehabad, Ambala, Jagadhari and Yamunanagar and Sangrur all petrol pumps and other establisments have been closed due to violence. A mob set on fire the Tehsil complex in Lahragaga and a power grid in Khandebad. A sewa kendra was also set on fire in Cheemamandi.
In Rajasthan, a vehicle was set on fire by a group of unidentified people in Sriganganagar, the birthplace of Dera chief. More from our correspondent:
In Delhi, there have been reports of arson in some parts of adjoining Uttar Pradesh. Coaches of a train at Anand Vihar Railway Station were torched by the miscreants. A DTC bus was also set on fire in Ghaziabad’s Loni.
Three people were arrested in connection with arson. Delhi Police PRO, Madhur Verma said, there were no large gatherings of followers of the Dera chief in Delhi yet, adding that adequate security arrangements were in place to deal with any eventuality.
Delhi Police has imposed Section 144 in all district of Delhi except Central district and North district. In a tweet, Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik requested to people to maintain peace and cooperate police.
In Uttar Pradesh, prohibitory orders have been imposed in bordering districts in view of violence in Haryana and Punjab. Restrictions have been imposed under section 144 in Muzaffarnagar, Shamali and Baghpat districts.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has reacted sharply to vandalism by Dera supporters. The court has ordered attachment of all properties belonging to Ram Rahim.
It has directed recovery of losses caused due to violence from Dera Sacha Sauda.
President Ram Nath Kovind has appealed to all citizens to maintain peace. The President has condemned the violence and damage to public property by supporters of Dera Sachcha Sauda.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the law and order situation in Haryana with the National Advisor Ajit Doval and Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi.
In a series of tweets, Mr Modi said, the law and order situation is being closely monitored. He urged officials to work round the clock to restore normalcy and provide all possible assistance that is required. The Prime Minister strongly condemned the violence and urged everyone to maintain peace. He said, the instances of violence are deeply distressing. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has appealed to everyone to maintain peace.
Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal has directed police commissioner to take effective measures to ensure protection of life and property. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has also urged people to maintain peace. Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has called for sacking of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal in the wake of mounting death toll in violence. (AIR News)