Honeypreet con­spired to start ar­son: Po­lice

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - - Metro - Vivek Gupta let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

Honeypreet In­san

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