Dera followers start crowd-funding for legal support to accused in Mansa
Over the past week, the district police have booked around 145 people for damaging public property and other offences.punjab Updated: Sep 05, 2017 19:20 IST
Dera Sacha Sauda followers have started a crowd-funding initiative to gather money from supporters to arrange bail money for the devotees who have been jailed for violence in the town after their chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was convicted of rape last month.
Over the past week, the district police have booked around 145 people for damaging public property and other offences. Among those booked, there are around a dozen dera followers who are associated with the two key committees — a 25-member body and a 45-member body — looking after the affairs of the dera in Punjab.
“Police have booked Neeta Ram, who owns a dairy shop in the town, for involvement in the violence. We are trying to arrange money for the legal expenses which will be incurred in the coming days. We have received Rs 2 lakh from Sagar Singh,” said a dera follower, who wished to stay anonymous. Suraj Bhan, a representative of the 45-member committee, evaded police soon after violence erupted in Mansa but was later arrested. “Suraj Bhan’s family is under extreme pressure and they fear that will be implicated in false cases. We will extend every type of support to the family,” said another dera follower.
Dera followers allege harassment
Fearing a police crackdown, many dera followers who own businesses in the district have gone into hiding and their shops have been closed for the last week. “Sushil Kumar who runs a gift shop in Mansa was booked. His shop is shut. Police have been picking up random followers, leading to fear. Even a policeman clicking a picture of a dera follower sends a shiver down our spine,” said a dera follower.
Mansa SSP Parambir Singh Parmar said no innocent will be harmed. “We have given clear instructions that innocent dera followers are not to be harassed,” he said.