Violence after Ram Rahim rape verdict: How the BJP govt messed up the situation
Dera chief’s hysterical followers ran amok pelting stones and set vehicles, buildings afire and creating a law and order crisis.india Updated: Aug 26, 2017 21:21 IST
An allegedly lax approach by the Haryana government in the days running up to the verdict on Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was likely responsible for the widespread violence that singed five states and left 34 people dead.
Violence and arson broke out in Panchkula soon after the CBI court held the Dera chief guilty. His hysterical followers ran amok pelting stones and set vehicles, buildings afire and creating a law and order crisis. Here’s how the government failed to read the situation correctly, at each step.
August 18: Government clamps section 144 but a clerical mistake ensures the prohibitory orders are only against carrying weapons and not on gathering.
August 20: The first of the Dera supporters start streaming into Panchkula.
August 21: The influx of Dera Sacha Sauda supporters turns into a flood but no fortification of security arrangement by the state government.
August 22: The number of Dera supporters cross 20,000. A second order is issued to impose section 144 but carries the same flaw: Weapons and not gatherings of people are the target. Ministers say the followers are peace-loving people and won’t cause any damage.
August 24: A day of gaffes. A day before the verdict is to be announced in Panchkula, the government admits to the mistake in its section 144 order. Issues a fresh order but is too late. More than 150,000 people have already gathered in Panchkula. Security forces fail to evict them from the city centre. A stadium is designated as a special jail but Dera supporters aren’t taken into preventive detention. In the evening, Singh releases a video message, asking supporters to maintain calm.
August 25: Hours before the verdict, Singh is allowed to travel to Panchkula from Sirsa in a huge cavalcade comprising nearly 200 vehicles. Most of them are stopped at the Panchkula border, and are later found to have been loaded with pistols and rifles. The conviction is announced in the afternoon. Minutes later, supporters go on a rampage. Police outnumbered in many places. With security arrangements in disarray, masked men stream into streets, vandalise property and burn down railway stations and cars.
First Published: Aug 26, 2017 21:13 IST