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Ram Rahim conviction: Heavy security turns Rohtak into fortress ahead of verdict

10 additional companies of the paramilitary forces arrived in the district on Saturday night, taking the total count to 20.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2017 19:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh/Rohtak
Ram Rahim,Ram Rahim rape verdict,Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
The administration has advised civilians to not head to Rohtak unless of an emergency. (HT Photo)

Haryana and Punjab stepped up security a day ahead of a court hearing on the quantum of sentence against rape convict and Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in Rohtak on Monday.

The special CBI court will pronounce the jail term on Monday during the proceedings to be held in the district jail where the flamboyant “godman” is lodged. The judge will be flown to Rohtak as per the order of the Punjab and Haryana high court in view of the prevailing law and order situation in Haryana. Ram Rahim was held guilty on Friday of raping two sadhvis (female followers), following which his supporters ran riot leading to the death of 38 people — 32 in Panchkula and six in Sirsa — and injuries to around 250.

Scalded by the magnitude of violence and stinging remarks against the Haryana government by the high court, the state agencies have turned Rohtak into a fortress. A multi-layer security cordon has been thrown around the district jail. A police official said 10 more companies of central armed police forces such as BSF, CISF and ITBP reached the district on Saturday night, taking the total to 20.

Rohtak deputy chief Atul Kumar said that miscreants who try to spread violence will be shot dead. “We requested for 18 columns of army. It is on stand-by and will arrive within one hour of our request,” he said.

The administration has advised the people not to travel to Rohtak unless there is urgent work. Nakas (checkpoints) have been set up at all entry points and within the city for checking private vehicles. Also, 10 Dera followers were arrested as a “precautionary measure”.

Haryana additional secretary, home, Ram Niwas said “foolproof” arrangements were being taken to avoid a replay of Friday’s violence. “Dus kilometre radius me parinda bhi par nahi mar sakta (Not even a bird can enter the 10 kilometre radius of the prison). I have been assured by the top police officials and the local administration,” he told a news channel.

All educational institutions, including government and private schools, colleges and other institutions, in Panchkula, Rohtak, Kaithal, Ambala, Bhiwani and Fatehabad districts will remain closed on Monday.

Both Punjab and Haryana, which suspended all mobile Internet, data and SMS services on August 24 for 72 hours, extended the suspension of services for two more days.

The administration also decided to suspend broadband services in Sirsa, home to Dera’s headquarters, which continues to be under lockdown. A media crew was allegedly assaulted near the Dera. Army and central armed police forces also carried out flag march in the city on Sunday.

Punjab also continues to be on a high alert with curfew imposed in many areas. The state authorities are going all-out to identify movable and immovable assets of the Dera on the directions of the high court.

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is facing criticism for failing to check the violence, a virtual repeat of the shoddy security arrangements during the Jat community protests for quotas last year in which nearly 30 people died.

Tearing into the government’s defence for not reining in Dera followers following Ram Rahim’s conviction, the high court observed, “This was political surrender to lure vote banks.” It asked the state why it couldn’t stop 200,000 followers of the sect from gathering in Panchkula despite prohibitory orders.

First Published: Aug 27, 2017 15:25 IST