Bomb squads, sniffer dogs join search ops at Ram Rahim’s Dera HQ in Sirsa | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Bomb squads, sniffer dogs join search ops at Ram Rahim’s Dera HQ in Sirsa

Bomb disposal squads, commandos, dog squads and locksmiths deployed; tight security in Sirsa.

punjab Updated: Sep 08, 2017 12:57 IST
HT Correspondent
Over 40 companies of paramilitary forces, four columns of the army, Haryana Police, a SWAT team and a dog squad have been deployed.
Over 40 companies of paramilitary forces, four columns of the army, Haryana Police, a SWAT team and a dog squad have been deployed.(Sanjeev Sharma/HT)

Security agencies and district authorities began a search of the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa on Friday amid tight security and curfew, two weeks after its chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was jailed for raping two disciples. (Live Updates)

The search operation is being conducted under the supervision of court commissioner AKS Pawar appointed by the Punjab and Haryana high court.

Chopper, bomb squads, sniffer dogs

Bomb disposal squads, commandos, sniffer dog and locksmiths were part of the operation that was being videographed, sources said.

A chopper with SWAT teams would monitor the ground situation with 5,000 security men drawn from 20 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force, 12 of the Sashastra Seema Bal, five of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, two of Rapid Action Force, four of the army and two of the Border Security Force keep an eye on the law and order situation.

The high court had on September 5 ordered the search of the dera, whose followers ran riot on August 25 after the flamboyant sect chief was convicted of two counts of rape by a CBI court in Panchkula, which bore the brunt of the violence that rocked Haryana and neighbouring states.

Thirty-eight people were killed, most of them in Panchkula, and 264 injured in clashes with security forces in Haryana. Six people were killed in Sirsa. Singh has been jailed for 20 years.

Dera administration chairperson Vipassana, who is a close aide of the sect head, said: “We are cooperating with the local administration. All weapons of the Dera and individuals inside (the premises) have been deposited with the authorities. We have nothing to hide.”

In a fresh appeal to sect followers on Friday, Vipassana urged them to cooperate in the search operation.

The dera sprawl

All roads leading to the dera, which is spread over 600 acres, have been sealed by paramilitary personnel and media, too, is being kept away from the premises.

Duty magistrates have been appointed for various zones of the dera, which houses a cinema hall, shopping complexes, a hospital, a stadium, a posh hotel and sprawling bungalows.

“We have formed a strategy and are hopeful that the sanitisation process will be conducted in a smooth manner,” Haryana director general of police (DGP) BS Sandhu had told a news agency on Thursday.

Skeletons on the premises

Hours before the search, the sect’s mouthpiece, Sach Kahoon, said human remains were buried in the premises.

The newspaper said on Thursday the sect leader encouraged followers to donate the remains for burial to prevent them from being immersed in rivers that caused pollution. Trees were planted on the graves, it said.

The dera chief got many people who opposed him killed and the bodies were buried on the campus, some of the people who got disillusioned and quit the sect alleged.

The 50-year-old Singh is also being tried for planning murders of a follower and a journalist who was one of the first people to write about the sexual abuse at the dera. The trials are in finals stages and a verdict is expected by year-end.