Dera Sacha Sauda assets worth Rs 53 crore identified, and still counting
While more assets are likely to come to light, this report underlines how the dera, headquartered in neighbouring Haryana’s Sirsa town, has a presence across the state.Updated: Aug 30, 2017 09:16 IST
The assets of Dera Sacha Sauda’s congregation centres (naam charcha ghar) in Punjab have so far been valued at Rs 53 crore, as per a report of estimates got prepared by the state home department from districts. While more assets are likely to come to light, this report underlines how the dera, headquartered in neighbouring Haryana’s Sirsa town, has a presence across the state.
Barring Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Pathankot and Rupnagar, 17 of Punjab’s 22 districts have at least one naam charcha ghar, according to the report. Most of these dera branches are not large in area, but regularly see gatherings; and are concentrated in the Malwa region. Within districts, too, the numbers tell a story. Faridkot has eight centres, Sangrur has four and Barnala, three. Details from Jalandhar, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, and Ludhiana are still to be received but the administrations have not denied the dera’s presence.
There are 98 branches in the state which the police and paramilitary forces in a joint operation have started evacuating.
The compilation by the district authorities was submitted before the Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday. It had last week sought details of the assets while ordering recovery from the dera for losses caused by the dera followers on August 25 when they went on rampage after a CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana, convicted dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for raping two followers.
According to MK Arvind Kumar, a secretary-rank officer of the home affairs department, the report was still being finalised and the government sought time from the court to file a more comprehensive report.
In Bathinda, the dera has the largest assets valued at Rs 20 crore. This district is where the state headquarters of the sect is located in Salabatpura. In Sangrur, the dera has assets worth at least Rs 7 crore; worth rs 5 crore in Patiala.
The relief sought
The government of Punjab has sought a compensation of Rs 1.25 crore for losses caused to government property in the state by the dera followers on August 25, the day the sect head was convicted; particularly in the Malwa region. That was based on reports from six districts. In 12 districts, a report was being compiled, while Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Pathankot reported no untoward incident.
“So far we have incurred Rs 1.89 crore and the expenditure is still continuing. A final report will come later.”
However, there were reports of burning of six petrol pumps and telephone exchanges each; besides damage to 10 vehicles, eight power grids, and ransacking of 20 sewa kendras (service centres). Sources said the railways alone has pegged losses at Rs 100 crore for burning of its railway stations, and Rs 80 lakh for cancellation of tickets after services were suspended.
The state government has also claimed Rs 2 crore on policing and non-policing expenses incurred to maintain law and order. “So far we have incurred Rs 1.89 crore and the expenditure is still continuing. A final report will come later,” the home department said in a report to the HC. Eighty-five paramilitary companies and 16,000 cops of the state police were on duty since a week before the case verdict.
What’s in the banks? Dera’s account details to take time
The state home departments says compilation of bank details of the Dera Sacha Sauda will take time, because it involves each branch of all banks, nationalised and private. “Deputy commissioners will write to the lead banks who would seek a report from all banks and branches. It may take 15-20 days,” a home department officer told HT. Sources said the dera has crores in the accounts of the dera trust, besides benami (proxy) accounts.
First Published: Aug 30, 2017 09:00 IST