The Punjab and Haryana governments and the Chandigarh administration on Friday submitted in the Punjab and Haryana high court that they had found no evidence of any illegal arms training by ex-servicemen in the religious deras of their jurisdictions.
The counsels of the two states and the Union Territory (UT) made the written statements during the resumed hearing of a public-interest petition initiated suo motu by the high court. The Punjab government submitted that it got all deras and ashrams in the state to fill self-declaration forms and had police officers inspect these premises; but no proof of illegal weapons training to private armies had come out. The government also submitted that the police would keep an eye on the activities at the deras.
Haryana, where a 2011 army intelligence report had suggested that ex-servicemen were giving arms training at Dera Sacha Sauda of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in Sirsa, also submitted that it had found nothing to prove it, though inquiry committees had been formed in each district for periodic inspection of the deras. The Chandigarh administration also stated in its reply that in all five ashrams being run in its jurisdiction, it had found nothing adverse.
The affidavits came on the high court notice to the two governments and the UT for filing status report on the activities of the deras. During a contempt case hearing in December 2014 against Rampal, head of Hisar’s Satlok Ashram in Haryana, the 2011 army intelligence about arms training at Sirsa had also come to light. Rampal’s private army had resisted the police for several days in November, 2014, before the force was able to dig him out of his Hisar ashram.
Nearly 110 uniformed personnel were injured and six other people died in that operation. Following this, the High court had ordered monitoring of the activities of all deras in the region and sought status reports from the governments.