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Dera verdict: Salabatpura calm as of now, but police taking no chances

Entry points to Bathinda have been put on alert amid round-the-clock nakas. Cops have also launched a special night vigil.

punjab Updated: Aug 20, 2017 12:50 IST
Prabhjit Singh
Prabhjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Salabatpura (Bathinda)
Dera verdict,Salabatpura,Dera Sacha Sauda
Barricades outside​the Salabatpura branch of Dera Sacha Sauda in Bathinda on Saturday. (Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

Less than two days after a special CBI court in Panchkula reserved its verdict in the rape trial of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, alias MSG, for August 25, for all outward purposes it’s business as usual in Salabatura, the sleepy town, considered to be the second headquarters of Sirsa-based dera.

Yet, there are signs that by the time the judgment day arrives in the case the CBI had filed 15 years ago, the administration is no mood to take chances against the ‘mood’ of the ‘Premis’, another name for dera followers.

“We are in crores, and these followers have their own emotions, beside faith in their guru.”

A posse of 25 cops was, on Friday, deputed to keep watch over any unusual activity outside the dera premises. There have been reports — an expectation even — that dera followers would block state’s highways and hold protests a day before or on the day of the verdict. Local dera leaders were open to speaking their mind on the issue.

“You can see, we are calm, as we have faith in the judiciary,” says Jeet Singh, the Salabatpura dera's second-in-command. Other dera followers, including a manager of the dera’s affairs, Hakam Singh, flank him.

“There have been many conspiracies against the men of God in the past for ten centuries of our history. Finally, the truth comes out. We have full faith that the verdict would come in our favour,” Jeet adds.

A group of elders gathered for tea at a shop preferred to say little. “We have nothing to say, and it is not good to talk on such matters that are in the court, especially when the man in question is on such a high position in society,” said an elder, refusing to be quoted. “Sab maya jaal hai, kise de bhavikh daa ithe kujh nahi pataa ji (it is all destiny that is not known),” said another man.

“We are in crores, and these followers have their own emotions, beside faith in their guru,” said Hakam Singh, when asked about the apprehensions of trouble.

2 nakas under every police station in Rampura Phul

Rampura Phul DSP Jaswinder Singh told HT that every police station in his block of Bathinda district had laid two nakas in their respective areas.

The entry points at Bathinda have been put on alert amid round-the-clock nakas. Cops have also launched a special night vigil drive. The case was lodged against the dera chief on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court after anonymous letters were circulated about alleged sexual exploitation of two female followers. The dera chief was accused of raping them inside the dera campus at its headquarters in Sirsa, Haryana. The CBI had filed the charge-sheet on July 30, 2007.

19 COMPANIES OF CENTRAL FORCES FOR PATIALA RANGE

PATIALA: The Patiala range police have decided to deploy 19 companies of paramilitary forces, anti-riot squads and nearly 10,000 policemen on August 25, the day when a special CBI court in Panchkula will pronounce its verdict on Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case.

“As Patiala, Sangrur and Barnala districts have a large number of dera followers (Premis), extra forces will be deployed to maintain law and order,” said deputy inspector general, Patiala range, Sukhchain Singh Gill, adding that five companies will be deployed in Patiala, eight in Sangrur and six in Barnala.

The police have identified sensitive areas and officials concerned have been asked to keep a tab on the situation.

First Published: Aug 20, 2017 12:49 IST