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Dera securitymen came armed with 30 litre petrol: Police

Hailing from different parts of the region, the six were given instructions, money, Gypsy and petrol by one Mithoo, a senior sewadar of the Sirsa-based sect, Manimajra station house officer (SHO) sub-inspector Rohit Kumar told the court on Sunday.

punjab Updated: Aug 28, 2017 13:47 IST
Aneesha Bedi
Aneesha Bedi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Ram Rahim,Ram Rahim rape verdict,Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
Dera chief’s private securitymen, who were arrested while trying to enter Chandigarh after the Panchkula violence, being produced before a duty magistrate.(HT Photo)

The six men, most of whom were part of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s private security force and arrested while trying to enter Chandigarh after the Panchkula violence on Friday, were sent by a sect worker from Sirsa with Rs 1,000 each and 30-litre can of petrol, police investigations have revealed.

Violence broke out in Panchkula and several other parts of Haryana, Punjab, and Rajasthan minutes after a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Friday found the 50-year-old self-styled godman guilty of raping two of his disciples 15 years ago.

His followers ran riot and clashed with security forces, leaving 38 people dead and 250 injured.

Police said the fact that these men were carrying petrol hints at the preparations made to commit arson.

The men were signalled to stop near a checkpoint on Mata Mansa Devi Road but they tried to flee. They have been identified as Ranjit Singh (25) of Sirsa, Dharmender (27) of Uttar Pradesh, Anup (30) of Haryana, Krishanpal Singh (43) of Sangrur, Maninder Singh (43) of Patiala, and Sukhwinder Singh (36) of Fatehabad.

They have been booked for rioting, carrying a weapon, unlawful assembly, disobeying orders, and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and various sections of the arms act.

The accused — who were arrested with one pistol, 25 cartridges, and an empty can of fuel — were presented before duty magistrate Kushal Singla on Sunday, who sent them to two-day police remand.

The men were given instructions, money, a Gypsy car, and petrol by a person named Mithoo, a senior sewadar of the Sirsa-based sect, Manimajra station house officer (SHO) sub-inspector Rohit Kumar told a local court.

“There is an entire nexus. The accused claimed Mithoo used to get instructions from the Dera management, which comprise a dozen people, mostly doctors and advocates. He further passed on the instructions to them,” said Kumar.

The accused allegedly also told the police that they received similar instructions earlier too, though violence broke out for the first time.

“The motive is clear,” said police, stating the petrol was not being carried to refill the vehicle as it could have been purchased from a fuel station on the route.

Police requested the duty magistrate for a five-day remand of the men so that they could be taken to Sirsa to help identify and arrest Mithoo. The accused had already been in remand for a day after being produced in court on Saturday.

‘Blind followers fell in trap’

Defence counsel Gagan Inder Singh opposed the police, claiming the accused were “blind followers of the self-styled godman and had been corrupted by the system since they were poor”.

“They are very poor and fell into a trap,” the counsel told the magistrate. “They don’t know what’s going on and need psychological treatment and counselling.”

Ranjit Singh, who was driving the Gypsy, is an undergraduate student and needs to appear for an exam, said the defence counsel. Their counsel pleaded the judicial officer for leniency as the men folded their hands and broke down, saying they didn’t see this coming and simply came to seek their guru’s blessings.

The arguments went for 40 minutes.

The magistrate granted the police two-day remand of the accused along with instructions to get them medically examined. He also asked for a detailed report on when and how they are taken to Sirsa.

A special CBI court near Rohtak town in Haryana will begin hearing arguments at 2.30pm on the quantum of punishment, which could range from seven years to life imprisonment, in the district jail at Sunaria where the flamboyant Dera Sacha Sauda chief is lodged.

Haryana and Punjab ordered schools and colleges shut, suspended mobile services, stepped up security and threw a five-tier cordon around the Rohtak jail ahead of the sentencing.

First Published: Aug 28, 2017 10:22 IST