Peace is prevailing in Haryana, curfew has been relaxed in Sirsa and Panchkula and all security arrangements have been made for the announcement of the quantum of sentence to the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, by the CBI court on August 28, Chief Secretary D.S.Dhesi claimed here on Saturday.
Addressing a joint press conference with Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Ram Niwas and Director General of Police B.S. Sandhu here, he disclosed that two cases of sedition had been registered against Sacha Sauda Dera followers.
The police have recovered one AK47 rifle and one Mauser from a vehicle of a Dera follower, and two rifles and five pistols from another vehicle during the operations. As many as 524 persons have been arrested under eight different FIRs registered against the Dera followers. Investigations are underway.
The law-and-order situation is being maintained and constantly monitored in the entire state, and no incident has occurred anywhere after 6.30 p.m. Friday. As many as 101 companies of paramilitary have been deployed in the state, six columns of the Army have been deployed in Panchkula, and four in Sirsa. Curfew has been relaxed in Panchkula and Sirsa.
Mr.Dhesi said the district administration, Sirsa, with the assistance of police, paramilitary and the Army, is sanitising and securing the area outside Dera Sacha Sauda.
Mr Dhesi said that casualties during the violence following delivery of the verdict against Dera chief by the CBI court in Panchkula on Friday did not include any local resident. In all, 28 persons, including 24 men, three women, and one child, were killed during the violence in Panchkula, whereas three persons were killed in Sirsa. As many as 250 persons were injured, including 50 police personnel. Of these, 101 persons have been referred to hospitals outside Panchkula for treatment whereas 31 have been discharged.
The 61 persons undergoing treatment include six police personnel, 24 from Punjab, 22 from Haryana and four each from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. “None of the injured belongs to Panchkula. Identities of those killed are being established and a post-mortem examination is being carried out to ascertain the cause of death. However, no resident of Panchkula has reported any person missing, injured or killed,” he asserted.
Mr. Dhesi said the mob burnt 28 vehicles, including some belonging to the government besides setting on fire two government buildings, namely offices of the Income Tax Department and HARTRON. Besides, six private shops were damaged and two other structures, including an ATM of HDFC Bank, were also set on fire.
Refuting reports that the Dera Chief was being provided VIP treatment, the Chief Secretary said he was transported to District Jail in Rohtak by helicopter due to security concerns. “He is being treated like any other inmate. He is being provided same food and facilities and has not been provided an air-conditioned cell. His Z Plus security was withdrawn automatically,” he added.
Replying to a question, Mr.Sandhu claimed the police had made adequate security arrangements and Army presence had been requested to bolster the confidence of the people. The Dera followers had remained peaceful but turned violent after the announcement of the verdict.
However, the security forces took efficient action while following the Standard Operating Procedures of law and order, and carried out operation an to drive away the protestors with full strength and discipline. The entire operation was completed by the Haryana Police in about three-and-a-half hours.
“Assistance of the Army was taken to maintain the law and order situation by carrying out flag march as a show of strength and to instil confidence in the people,” he added.
He added that all preparations had been made for the announcement of the quantum of punishment by the CBI court on August 28. It is learnt that as per directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the CBI court will be temporarily shifted to Rohtak Jail.
Sufficient police and Army personnel have been posted in Sirsa. People inside the Dera want to come outside but as the situation is tense, they would be taken out only after the situation normalises, he added.
Replying to another question regarding resumption of the bus and rail services, he said that the situation would be reviewed later during the day.
Regarding manhandling of an Inspector General of Police, Mr.Sandhu said no such incident had occurred. A disagreement had arisen when the Dera chief had insisted on using his personal car after announcement of the verdict. However, he was transported in Government vehicle.
Refuting reports that police personnel had run away during the operation, the DGP said they had merely retreated so that they could regroup and tackle the violent mob more effectively. “This is a normal strategy in any clash and does not mean that the personnel were running away from duty,” he added.
Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Mr. Ram Niwas, said the efficient action taken by the security forces to disperse the violent mob in about three-and-a-half hours had prevented a more serious situation. “But for the effective and efficient action taken by the security forces, the situation could have been more horrific. The mob could have caused greater loss of life and property, and could have also entered Chandigarh. As Panchkula is surrounded by open areas, the protestors entered the city in large numbers by road, river Ghaggar, and other ways in spite of 61 nakas. However, the effective action prevented the situation from turning worse,” he claimed.