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Uneasy calm at Dera’s Sirsa HQ, standoff on asset assessment continues

The standoff, however, between the authorities and the dera management continued as the latter did not cooperate for the assessment of dera properties in compliance with the Punjab and Haryana high court orders.

india Updated: Aug 30, 2017 18:54 IST
Prabhjit Singh and Bhaskar Mukherjee
Prabhjit Singh and Bhaskar Mukherjee
Hindustan Times, Sirsa
Ram Rahim convicted,Dera Sacha Sauda,Sirsa HQ
Police evicting dera followers in Sirsa on Monday. (Manoj Dhaka/HT)

The Sirsa administration on Monday heaved a sigh of relief as security forces managed to evict nearly 8,000 Dera Sacha Sauda followers from the sect headquarters, with no fresh incident of violence amid curfew.

All gates of the dera headquarters remained shut during the day, while its devotees, some 8,000 in number, came out in groups as part of the eviction operation that began Saturday night under the army after the dera management began a dialogue in this regard, officials said.

The standoff, however, between the authorities and the dera management continued as the latter did not cooperate for the assessment of dera properties in compliance with the Punjab and Haryana high court orders.

“The dera is a permanent establishment and we made some progress in holding dialogue with its management so that we can comply with the high court orders,” Haryana-cadre senior IAS officer V Umashankar, who was roped in to contain hold a dialogue with the dera authorities, said at a press conference here.

“Earlier, they were not willing to talk but yesterday some talks took place and we were able to evict 8,000 devotees from the main dera complex,” said the officer, who landed in Sirsa a night before the dera chief was to be taken to the Panchkula court last Thursday. Though he refused to reveal any name, sources said that dera management chairperson Guru Brahmachari Vipasana was the key figure in the talks with the administration.

HC order compliance

"We have begun attaching the (bank) accounts and we also have procured the revenue records of the dera from officials," Umashankar told HT, acknowledging that the assessment of the dera assets has begun. He clarified that the high court had ordered only to give assessment of the dera properties and to notify that the dera management would not be allowed to alienate these assets.

‘Not received HC orders’

Dera trust chairperson 'Guru Brahmachari' Vipasana, who was not accessible on phone, had told HT on Saturday that she did not see any high court order. "We have not seen any such orders," she had stated, when asked whether the management was willing to reveal its assets to the administration. Vipasana disownedtheviolence by the dera followers saying, “This violence, especially against mediapersons, is thehandwork of some miscreants and we condemn it," she said.

34 orphans sent to childcare centres

On Monday morning, 34 orphans from the orphanage at the dera headquarters were brought to Bal Bhawan and the authorities sent them to childcare centres in the state, said Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) commandant Naresh Lakra, who supervised the evacuation operation in the wee hours.

Over 100 rounded up

The police have so far "rounded up" around 100 alleged rioters and suspects, Umashankar said. The police were identifying the "real troublemakers" and were registering cases against them, he said, adding that no specific figure of arrests could be revealed as of now.

At the Bajekan barricade, 100-odd buses of the Haryana Roadways ferried the dera devotees towards the Rajasthan border, as the army carried flag marches on Monday.

Village scene

Residents of Nejia Khera village, half a kilometre from the dera headquarters, wore a deserted look. "It is all peaceful here. We remained peaceful even when the firing took place (on August 25)," said Jagdeep Singh, who accompanied the village elders.

“We never wanted anyone gets killed and so we stopped every individual approaching that side on Begu road," said Randhir. They said they had witnessed the 2007 Dera-Sikh clashes but remained away from any controversy. They, however, did not reveal the exact number of dera devotee families in the village. "We all are one and we live I peace. This is all politics that leads to problems for the common man," Randhir said.

First Published: Aug 29, 2017 09:20 IST