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Punjab DGP takes stock with whirlwind tour ahead of dera chief Ram Rahim’s verdict

Heavy deployment is being done in Mohali district that has a boundary with Panchkula where the judgment would be pronounced. Panchkula has already been witnessing congregation of thousands of the dera’s followers.

punjab Updated: Aug 22, 2017 21:08 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh/Patiala/Bathinda
Dera Chief,Ram rahim,Amarinder Singh
The verdict will be declared by the CBI court in Panchkula after more than a decade of trial proceedings over allegations by two female ex-followers of the dera head that they were sexually exploited at the sect headquarters in Sirsa (Haryana).(HT File Photo )

With intelligence reports about possibility of violence if the August 25 verdict in a rape case goes against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim scheduled, the Punjab police have started monitoring and sealing the border with Haryana.

The verdict will be declared by the CBI court in Panchkula after more than a decade of trial proceedings over allegations by two female ex-followers of the dera head that they were sexually exploited at the sect headquarters in Sirsa (Haryana). The dera has following concentrated in the inter-state border region.

Punjab director general of police (DGP) Suresh Arora on Tuesday took a whirlwind tour of Bathinda, Mansa, Moga, Patiala, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib and Mohali districts, and checked preparedness.

Chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who also holds the home portfolio, is learnt to have provided the DGP with the government chopper in which he took the tour to save time. The police chief was accompanied by DGP (law and order) Hardeep Dhillon and DGP (intelligence) Dinkar Gupta, and their stoppages and meetings were at Bathinda and Patiala, among other places. Now, the DGP has been provided a free hand in using the chopper in the current situation, said sources.

“We have all the preparedness to maintain law and order. At the same time, I am sure that people of Punjab will not indulge in any activity that will spoil the peace of the state,” the DGP told Hindustan Times.

Meanwhile, speaking with reporters in Delhi, the CM warned against any attempts to disrupt the state’s law and order. He said his government had received 75 companies of central forces to maintain security. “The people should accept any court judgement,” he added.

Heavy deployment is being done in Mohali district that has a boundary with Panchkula where the judgment would be pronounced. Panchkula has already been witnessing congregation of thousands of the dera’s followers.

Inspector general of police (Patiala range) AS Rai said at least 10,000 personnel of the state police and rapid action force will be deployed across the range that covers six districts — Patiala, Sangrur, Barnala, Rupnagar, Mohali and Fatehgarh Sahib.

“From today onwards, all roads leading to Panchkula via Punjab have been put under monitoring, and intelligence officials are already keeping a tab on movement of dera followers. The idea is to not allow entry of the followers to Panchkula on the judgment day,” said a senior police officer.

Heavy police bandobast has been made in Bathinda, which shares its border with Sirsa – the headquarters of the dera. Police are also in touch with the dera followers and have appealed to them to maintain peace.

In Patiala, S Bhoopati, senior superintendent of police (SSP), said, “We are coordinating with police from Haryana camping near the border.”

He said even army officials have been contacted for their services in emergency. “Formal meetings with army officials will be held at the earliest.”

Sector-16 cricket stadium marked as jail

A joint meeting of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh administration was held on Tuesday in Chandigarh — the UT that serves as capital of both states — and the cricket Stadium in Sector 16 was notified as a temporary jail for August 25, the day the verdict in the more than a decade-old rape case against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief is pronounced by a CBI court in Panchkula, a satellite city of Chandigarh in Haryana.

Why Punjab is more vulnerable than Haryana

Even as the dera is headquartered in Sirsa in Haryana, and the judgment in the rape case against the sect head would also pronounced in Haryana’s Panchkula, Punjab is seen as more prone to violence in the wake of a judgment against him. “In Punjab, we already have a tussle between dera followers and Sikh hardliners. Even if the court acquits the dera head and his followers start celebrations, the challenge to maintain law and order will remain, because the Sikh hardliners may protest,” a senior intelligence official said. From the hardliner camp, some leaders may even be taken into preventive custody.

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 21:05 IST