Honeypreet conspired to start arson: Police
Honeypreet, the adopted daughter of jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was responsible for the violence that swept four states and killed 38 people in August after the controversial sect leader’s rape conviction, police claimed on Wednesday.
Haryana police say Honeypreet, whose real name is Priyanka Taneja, headed a crucial meeting of top Dera functionaries at the Sirsa headquarters of the sect on August 17 when it was decided to send hordes of people to Haryana’s Panchkula, where a CBI court convicted Singh for raping two women disciples.
A careful plan to spread arson and violence in case of an adverse verdict was also laid out at the meeting, police claimed. Honeypreet, who is said to be in her 30s, also arranged for ₹1.25 crore that reached Panchkula through an aide and was used to fund the massive build-up of crowd that topped 200,000 the morning of the verdict on August 25.
Honeypreet has denied all charges and said she was never present at the meeting but police say they have proof against her, based on their interrogation of other top functionaries of the sect.
“We have clinching evidence to prove that she was main handler of cash in Dera and she sent the money through Dera chief’s personal assistant Rakesh Kumar,” said Panchkula police commissioner AS Chawla. “We have verified she headed the important meeting from testimonies of other arrested Dera members.”
Minutes after Singh was convicted on August 25, his hysterical supporters ran riot across Haryana and Punjab, clashing with security forces, and burning down buildings, vehicles and railway stations. The violence singed even Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Outnumbered in many places, policemen were seen fleeing from mobs that were armed with sticks and stones.
The violence has been widely blamed on the build-up of crowds in Panchkula ahead of the verdict. Honeypreet was arrested from a highway in Punjab last week after absconding for more than a month.
“No conspiracy meeting took place and no followers of the sect were involved in the violence, which was orchestrated by outsiders,” said Honeypreet’s counsel, SK Garg Nirwana who is also the Dera chief’s lawyer.
But police say they are sure Honeypreet is to blame, and are pointing at the testimonies of two arrested sect members – Dera’s Panchkula unit coordinator Chamkaur Singh and Rakesh Kumar.
Both Rakesh Kumar and Chamkaur Singh are are in judicial custody after their arrest last month.
The police have now summoned Dera chairperson Vipassana Insaan to cross check with her the details of the August 17 meeting.
But the worry is that Honeypreet’s laptop and mobile phone, which apparently contains a trove of information about the sect, haven’t been recovered. Her police remand lapses on Friday.