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Dera followers ‘admit’ they were told to target public buildings in Malwa in case of adverse verdict

Ranjit Singh was the link between Duni Chand and local dera followers.

punjab Updated: Sep 04, 2017 22:18 IST
Avtar Singh
Avtar Singh
Hindustan Times, Sangrur
Dera Sacha Sauda,target public buildings,Malwa
Dera followers Duni Chand and Ranjit Singh (with faces covered) in police custody in Sangrur on Monday.(HT Photo)

Two followers of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda on Monday allegedly admitted that they were told to target public buildings in the Malwa region of Punjab if their chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was held guilty in the rape case in a Panchkula court on August 25.

“We attended a meeting in Sirsa at 2am on August 17 and were told to target public buildings if the verdict went against our Guruji,” Duni Chand, the main accused, told the reporters while in police custody.

He was arrested on Sunday along with his accomplice, Ranjit Singh, for triggering violence in Punjab’s southern districts of Sangrur, Barnala, Patiala, Mansa and Bathinda, adjoining Haryana. Ranjit Singh was the link between Duni Chand and local dera followers, it is alleged.

A file photo of Duni Chand (third from left) seeking blessings from Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in 2015. ( HT Photo )

Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Mandeep Singh Sidhu told reporters here that Duni Chand, a resident of Sherpur town, was arrested on Sunday along with Ranjit Singh from the outskirts of Gujran village near Dirba on Sunday. Both have been dera followers or ‘premis’ since 1994.

“Rakesh Kumar, who lives in the Sirsa dera and was in touch with the dera head, had formed an eight-member ‘A’ team to spark off violence in Malwa in case of an adverse verdict. Chand was a member of that team,” Sidhu said.

A sum of Rs 1.7 lakh, pepper sprays and dera literature was recovered from the car Chand was driving. The other absconding members of the team are Major Singh of Mansa, Balwinder Singh and Gurdev Singh of Bathinda, Prithi Chand of Baghapurana, Mahinderpal Singh Bittu of Kotkapura, Gurdas Singh of Kot Bhai of Bathinda and Gurjit Singh of Moga.

“Like me, many others fell in the dera management’s trap and got ready to burn our own state,” Chand told reporters while in custody. On August 23, two days before the conviction of the dera head, Ranjit Singh even attended a meeting called by the district police chief at the Police Lines to maintain law and order.

Fifty-nine dera followers have been arrested in the district so far. They have been booked for attempt to murder besides damaging public and private property in the district. The police have impounded 22 motorcycles and three cars in this connection.

First Published: Sep 04, 2017 15:22 IST