Dera violence: When panicky Panchkula residents hired bouncers
Armed with baseball bats, the bouncers looked intimidating in their tight-fitting black outfit and black glassesUpdated: Aug 27, 2017 10:58 IST
Desperate times, desperate measures.
From hiring bouncers to manning sector gates and monitoring CCTV cameras, residents of Panchkula did what it took to stay safe after Dera Sacha Sauda followers ran riot when their chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was convicted of rape on Friday afternoon.
Despite the administration’s assurances, residents of different sectors came up with different measures as the buildup to trouble became evident.
Rattled residents of Sector 4, which bore the brunt of the violence, braced for D-day by hiring burly bouncers. “We hired four bouncers for 24 hours from 7am on Friday for our locality. It cost us Rs 15,000 but it worked really well. Our two chowkidars couldn’t have taken on the mob. We tried a private security agency earlier but it expressed helplessness,” says Deepak Luthra, a resident of the sector.
Armed with baseball bats, the bouncers looked intimidating in their dark glasses and tight-fitting black outfit. They were enough to deter the dera followers, who fled into residential areas from the adjoining Zirakpur-Kalka highway and Hafed Chowk when the security personnel retaliated.
COPS IN FIRING LINE
“The police expressed inability to do anything so we were on our own till the army arrived,” Luthra says.
Residents of neighbouring Sectors 2 and 12 kept their gates locked through the day and watched the action unfold on the flyover on the highway from the rooftops. Youngsters shot videos of security personnel cane-charging and chasing protesters, while the elderly watched the action on TV.
The administration cut power supply but the inverters and dish antenna kept the residents clued in to the latest.
“It was terrifying to hear gunshots and see the plumes of smoke cloud the sky. I was worried about my car parked outside,” says Puneeta Katoch, a school teacher and mother of two, who resides in Sector 2.
Col Arun Opal (retd), a resident of Sector 12, said the army was in control because its officers led from the front.
“The police failed because there was no officer on the ground to direct the jawans. Leadership matters. That’s what made KPS Gill a super cop when Punjab fought militancy,” he says.
“The police deployment in Sector 4 was inadequate. Most of them were protecting Sector 6, where the Haryana bureaucrats stay,” he added.
Residents of Sectors 8, 9, 15, 16 and 17 kept the gates to the residential areas locked. While some took turns manning the entrances throughout the night, others chose to hire more watchmen.
“We had only one gate open and seven chowkidars on duty on Friday. Some dera followers tried but couldn’t enter,” said Ramesh Dhingra, a resident of Sector 8.
(With inputs by Varun Arora)
First Published: Aug 27, 2017 10:58 IST