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Ram Rahim rape verdict: Areas along Zirakpur-Panchkula highway bore brunt of violence

The followers seemed well-prepared with petrol bombs in stock. Their intent to indulge in violence was pretty clear, though there was a brief argument among two groups before the mob unleashed its fury with extreme violence.

punjab Updated: Aug 26, 2017 17:19 IST
Gagandeep Jassowal
Gagandeep Jassowal
Hindustan Times, Panchkula
Ram Rahim,Baba Ram Rahim,Dera Sacha Sauda news
Followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh throw stones at security forces during clashes after the dera chief was convicted of rape in Panchkula.(AFP)

With around 2 lakh followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda already in Panchkula, the decision to use road transport to ferry Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh meant that in the four hours between 8pm to noon, the Zirakpur-Panchkula highway had 30,000 followers sitting on the dividers along the road. All of these followers wanted to see their chief. So, when the almost inevitable violence broke out after the conviction, sectors and locations along and around the highway bore the brunt of the dera followers’ fury. Incidentally, the Dera chief was ultimately taken to court via Sector 20.

However, because they were on the highway the mob had access to Sector 3, Panchkula, the Madanpura village and some houses in Sector 4. These were the three areas that thus saw the most violence and from the highway periodic plumes of smoke rose from the vehicles set on fire, as the ‘Premis’ used petrol bombs to set any vehicle in sight on fire.

The followers seemed well-prepared with petrol bombs in stock. Their intent to indulge in violence was pretty clear, though there was a brief argument among two groups before the mob unleashed its fury with extreme violence.

OB van first target

At first, the mob targeted an Outdoor-Broadcasting (OB) van of a media house and set in on fire. Within seconds, two-three cars had also been torched. To ensure that security personnel were on the back foot, some of the followers started pelting stones at the security forces. Some of them even tried to assault media personnel on duty.

All this while, for a period of less than half an hour, the police and other security personnel did not react. However, when the situation went out of control, Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel came on the highway. The force had been stationed at the entry points to residential areas in Panchkula till then.

Too little, too late

The entry of the RAF and any other action that came after the violence was a case of too little, too late. The mob has smelled blood and was in frenzy.

Tear shells were thrown and firing started, but to no effect. Even the fire brigade did not reach on time

First Published: Aug 26, 2017 08:32 IST