Followers of Sirsa-based religious sect Dera Sacha Sauda went on a rampage on Saturday across Haryana and Punjab, torching buses, vandalising public property and unleashing panic among the public.
In Haryana, at least 12 state roadways buses were torched allegedly by the Dera followers.
At least six CRPF companies have been requisitioned by the state and more than 2,000 additional cops were being despatched from police training centres, said DGP R.S. Dalal.
The protests are being seen as a warning to authorities in wake of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh being booked by the CBI for his alleged involvement in the murder of a former Dera manager, Fakir Chand.
A district police chief said the incidents were well-organised and timed — most of them occurred between 6-7 pm.
Public property was damaged in Jind district, a post office burnt at Uchana and a roadways bus torched on the Hisar-Chandigarh national highway near Badowal and Sacha Kheda villages. The passengers managed to escape.
Sirsa, too, was rocked by incidents of arson. According to witnesses, bike-borne arsonists wearing black masks and carrying petrol in canisters set buses afire. Deputy commissioner Yudhvir Singh Khyalia confirmed that eight buses had been set ablaze. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed and a red alert sounded, he added.
At Fatehabad, vehicles at the roadways bus depot were set on fire. In Kaithal and Karnal districts, Dera followers allegedly pelted stones, damaged public property and set buses afire.
At Hansi in Hisar, the followers blocked the national highway and burnt a roadways bus on Raipur-Mirzapur road.
Transport commissioner Anand Mohan Sharan said the movement of all Haryana Roadways buses had been curtailed. Drivers have been directed to park the vehicles in police stations, police chowkis or the nearest roadways depot.