Verdict on dera chief Ram Rahim: More than 2k officers of Punjab Armed Police moved to districts
With dera followers present in sizeable numbers in at least 13 of 22 districts in the state, senior police officers admit that in case the situation get tense, the challenge to maintain law and order was bigger for Punjab than Haryana.punjab Updated: Aug 19, 2017 23:00 IST
Ahead of a special CBI court’s verdict in the rape trial of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, alias MSG, on August 25, Punjab DGP Suresh Arora has ordered all wings of the police to be on ‘stand-by’ mode to deal with any untoward incident in case of a decision against the dera head.
Police have identified at least 25 sensitive congregational places of the dera.
The intelligence, the vigilance bureau and cops at the training centres have all been asked to be in ‘readiness’ mode. The newly formed Special Task Force (STF), the special wing of the Punjab Police to tackle drug menace, has been ordered to take guard in the field. Seniors officers posted with the STF have also been assigned duties in Malwa, sources added. The intelligence wing has also been asked to increase surveillance around the 25 points.
Seventy-five companies of paramilitary forces that the Centre has sanctioned for Punjab to deal with any law and order problem arising out of the verdict are expected to arrive in batches by Sunday evening.
At least 60 of these companies (80% of the force) will be posted in the Malwa region, the hub of dera followers, in the state, sources claimed. The rest will be deployed in Doaba and Majha region. More than 2,000 police officers have been moved from the Punjab Armed Police (PAP), Jalandhar, to districts. PAP trains armed policemen of the state and assigns them important and complex duties. This deployment from the PAP to the districts will continue for two more days.
Bigger challenge for Punjab
With dera followers present in sizeable numbers in at least 13 of 22 districts in the state, senior police officers admit that in case the situation get tense, the challenge to maintain law and order was bigger for Punjab than Haryana.
“In Haryana, the major challenge in Panchkula where the judgment will be pronounced and in Sirsa - the dera headquarters. In Punjab, large numbers of followers are concentrated all over the state. We are not taking any chances,” said a DGP-rank officer.
DGP Arora is monitoring the situation and DGP (law and order) Hardeep Dhillon is carrying out the task of deployment of state police and the central forces.
Police, dera leaders hold meetings
A police officer, on the condition of anonymity, told HT that senior officers in the Malwa region, had held meetings with the dera leaders in Sangrur, Patiala, Mansa, Faridkot, Bathinda, Muktsar, Ferozepur and Ludhiana.
“Apart from asking them to maintain peace in every situation, we are trying to convince them that the deployment of force is not to threaten them. It is just a precautionary measure to ensure peace, is what we are conveying,” said an officer, admitting that an IG-rank officer posted in Malwa is also in touch with the dera.
First Published: Aug 19, 2017 22:13 IST