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‘A political surrender to lure vote banks’: HC slams Khattar govt after violence over Ram Rahim verdict

This is the strongest indictment of the Haryana government, which is under pressure following large-scale violence over the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2017 20:15 IST
Shailee Dogra
Shailee Dogra
Chandigarh, Hindustan Times
Manohar Lal Khattar,Dera Sacha Sauda,Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
Army personnel patrol a road near Dera Sacha Sauda’s Sirsa headquarters on Saturday.(PTI)

The Punjab and Haryana high court criticised the Manohar Lal Khattar government on Saturday for “politically surrendering” to the Dera Sacha Sauda, whose supporters ran riot across two states to protest against their chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s conviction. The clashes left 31 people dead and injured 200 others. (Live updates)

Hearing a public interest litigation on the law and order situation, the HC observed the Panchkula deputy commissioner of police, who was suspended on Saturday morning, was being made a “scapegoat” and sought a deeper probe into the shoddy security arrangements that failed to control the mobs.

“This was a political surrender to lure vote banks…they were outsiders, you allowed them to enter and stay,” said the three-judge bench.

The court also criticised the chief minister, who alleged late on Friday that anti-social elements and miscreants were behind the violence. “If the CM came to know in a day about anti-social elements, why couldn’t you prevent their entry for the last seven days?” The next hearing in the case is on Tuesday, a day after the sentence is pronounced against the Dera chief.

The court’s strong observations amid mounting attacks on the government for letting nearly 200,000 supporters of the flashy and controversial leader gather in Panchkula, where a CBI court convicted Singh on Friday for raping two women 15 years ago.

Minutes after the conviction was announced in a highly-guarded courtroom, hysterical followers burnt down offices, vehicles and railway stations and turned Panchkula into a virtual war zone. Visuals showed outnumbered police officials fleeing with the security arrangement in disarray as masked men streamed into neighbourhoods and attacked journalists. Forces responded with tear gas shells, batons and finally, firing.

The high court noted these developments, as well as media reports. The judges were told that a glitch in orders imposing section 144 led to restrictions on the entry of people with weapons, and not on large gatherings themselves. “We want to know who the political person was who gave these orders,” the court said.

On Saturday as the violence spread from Punjab and Haryana to Rajasthan, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, the high court had ruled that the Dera would pay for any damages and sought a list of its properties. The court on Saturday asked deputy commissioners across Haryana to submits lists of the Dera’s movable and immovable properties, its bank accounts and incomes.

First Published: Aug 26, 2017 13:50 IST