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Flip flop: Contrary to Punjab CM’s denial, minister Mohindra backs relief for dera followers, then backs out

Considered next to the CM in the cabinet hierarchy, the Congress leader from the CM’s hometown Patiala even said the ‘premis’ — the loving ones, as the followers call themselves — “also deserve our praise for maintaining peace in Punjab”. While Panchkula in Haryana saw more than 30 deaths in police action on dera followers, sect headquarters Sirsa, also in Haryana, saw six deaths. Punjab only saw stray arson.

punjab Updated: Sep 01, 2017 22:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Dera Sacha Sauda,Gurmeet Ram Rahim,Sirsa sect
Punjab health minister Brahm Mohindra (HT File)

Even though Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh last week refused any compensation to families of Dera Sacha Sauda followers killed in clashes with police in Panchkula after the sect head was convicted of rape, health minister Brahm Mohindra on Friday batted for monetary relief for them, only to later back out.

Considered next to the CM in the cabinet hierarchy, the Congress leader from the CM’s hometown Patiala issued a statement, through the public relations department at 6.47pm, saying that ‘premis’ — the loving ones, as the followers call themselves — “also deserve our praise for maintaining peace in Punjab”. While Panchkula in Haryana saw more than 30 deaths in police action on dera followers, sect headquarters Sirsa, also in Haryana, saw six deaths. At least eight of the dead were from Punjab. But the state only saw stray arson.

The statement — headlined ‘Premis are also human beings: Brahm Mohindra’, and withdrawn an hour after issuance — was sent to journalists through the district public relations office. Underlining that the guilty had already been punished, in it Mohindra promised the devotees “all the security and whatever help and support they need from the state government”.

It must be underlined that Mohindra’s constituency, Patiala Rural, has significant population of dera followers.

“They are our own people and part of our society,” the statement said, adding that they could be not punished for someone else’s fault: “The law has taken its own course, and whosoever was guilty has been brought to book... The followers cannot be held responsible,” it said

It also expressed his sympathies with the bereaved families, and declared, “The state government is examining each and every case.” And added that he will raise the matter with the CM. “Not all those people who were killed or injured in the police firing were guilty. They were either misled or caught unawares,” conveyed the statement.

It stressed, “Congress party and chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh do not believe in discrimination. We stand by the victims who were caught unawares in the police action and express our sympathies to all of them. Strict instructions have been issued for the safety and security of ‘premis’ all over the state.”

The statement had even hailed “the CM’s decision” of not closing any naam charcha ghar (congregation centre) of the dera in Punjab. “People are free to practise and follow any faith they want, and our chief minister has already ensured that.”

First Published: Sep 01, 2017 19:23 IST