HC raps Khat­tar, says CM pro­tected De­ras

With death toll climb­ing to 36, sev­eral parts of Haryana re­main tense, Home Ministry re­views se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - HARPREET BAJWA @Chandigarh

A day af­ter Haryana, and parts of Pun­jab and Delhi wit­nessed vi­o­lence af­ter Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was con­victed of rape, the Pun­jab and Haryana High Court held Manohar Lal Khat­tar’s gov­ern­ment re­spon­si­ble for the sit­u­a­tion go­ing out of con­trol and blamed it for shield­ing Dera Sacha Sauda fol­low­ers in or­der to get po­lit­i­cal sup­port. The court also sought a de­tailed sta­tus re­port on Fri­day’s ri­ot­ing, the toll of which ticked up to 36 on Satur­day.

In a spe­cial hear­ing on Satur­day, the High Court slammed the Haryana gov­ern­ment for fail­ing to con­trol the vi­o­lence that broke out on Fri­day. “You (the state gov­ern­ment) have been mis­lead­ing us. There has been a sea of dif­fer­ence be­tween ad­min­is­tra­tive and po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions. Ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ci­sions were paral­ysed be­cause of po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions. You have placed a DCP un­der sus­pen­sion, but was he the only per­son re­spon­si­ble for all this? Are you try­ing to tell us that?” the HC asked, as the sit­u­a­tion re­mained tense in the re­gion, with se­cu­rity forces put on high alert.

The bench com­pris­ing Jus­tices SS Saron, Surya Kant and Avneesh Jhin­gan cas­ti­gated the Haryana gov­ern­ment and CM Khat­tar in par­tic­u­lar. “The CM is the Home Min­is­ter. Why have you al­lowed peo­ple to as­sem­ble for seven days? The CM is pro­tect­ing them,” the court said. It also slammed Haryana Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Ram Bi­las Sharma for giv­ing a grant of `51 lakh to the Dera re­cently.

With the quan­tum of pun­ish­ment for Gurmeet Ram Rahim due to be spelt out on Mon­day, the High Court or­dered that the CBI court ses­sion be held in the Su­naria district jail in Ro­htak, where the god­man is presently lodged. Ro­htak Deputy Com­mis­sioner Atul Ku­mar said 18 col­umns of the Army have been req­ui­si­tioned and would carry out a flag march.

The Haryana gov­ern­ment to save its al­ready dam­aged face sacked its deputy ad­vo­cate gen­eral Gu­das Singh Sal­wara, who was seen car­ry­ing Ram Rahim’s bag af­ter he was taken into cus­tody by the po­lice.

In New Delhi, Union Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh re­viewed the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in north In­dia, with Union Home Sec­re­tary Ra­jiv Mehrishi and In­tel­li­gence Bureau chief Ra­jiv Jain mak­ing de­tailed pre­sen­ta­tions about the sit­u­a­tion in Haryana, Pun­jab, Chandigarh, Delhi, Ra­jasthan and Ut­tar Pradesh. NSA Ajit Do­val and chiefs of para­mil­i­tary were also present at the meet­ing.

Mean­while, around one lakh Dera Sacha Sauda sup­port­ers in­clud­ing women and chil­dren are camp­ing in the sect’s head­quar­ters in Sirsa, where the Army is pa­trolling the streets. The district au­thor­i­ties have been ap­peal­ing through loud­speak­ers, to the fol­low­ers in­side the dera to leave.

How­ever, Harayana DGP B S Sandhu claimed that only 3,000 peo­ple were in­side Dera and they would come out when the sit­u­a­tion re­turned to nor­malcy.

The court has asked the Dera to sub­mit the list of as­sets and prop­er­ties which can be at­tached “in case it is found that they and their fol­low­ers are re­spon­si­ble for dam­ag­ing prop­er­ties.”

AMID un­prece­dented scale of law­less­ness seen in Haryana af­ter con­vic­tion of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case, the BJP has thrown its weight be­hind the state chief min­is­ter Manohar Lal Khat­tar. It has emerged that the Cen­tre had not just been in the loop, but closely co­or­di­nated strat­egy to deal with sit­u­a­tions aris­ing out of the court ver­dict with the state.

The Haryana chief min­is­ter, who had al­ways been on the edge in the state pol­i­tics with cri­sis af­ter cri­sis test­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tive acu­men, ap­pears “safe”. The saf­fron out­fit is seem­ingly not mulling at re­plac­ing him in im­me­di­ate fu­ture. Sources in the BJP claimed that the top brass of the party had well been aware of the con­se­quences of the con­vic­tion of the sect leader who com­mands strong fol­low­ing in many dis­tricts of Haryana.

“In­tel­li­gence in­puts were avail­able much in ad­vance of the wide­spread vi­o­lence in the event of con­vic­tion of Gurmeet Ram Rahim. There were two op­tions be­fore the gov­ern­ment. First op­tion was to take him into pre­ven­tive cus­tody and se­condly the ad­min­is­tra­tion had to swoop down swiftly to tame the vi­o­lence if he got con­victed. Dur­ing dis­cus­sions, it emerged that the pre­ven­tive cus­tody could have sparked off in­stant ri­ots and the ad­min­is­tra­tion would have failed to bring him to the court. There­fore, the Cen­tre and state chose the sec­ond op­tion,” sources said.

Scoff­ing the spec­u­la­tions of Khat­tar hav­ing been sum­moned to the na­tional cap­i­tal, a top BJP leader dis­missed it, say­ing there is no such move. The BJP na­tional gen­eral sec­re­tary and party in-charge for Haryana Anil Jain said, the ad­min­is­tra- tion tamed the fall­out of the con­vic­tion within three hours and min­imised the vi­o­lence. Another se­nior BJP leader sought to sug­gest that there had been no lapses on the part of the ad­min­is­tra­tions to deal with the sit­u­a­tions aris­ing out of the con­vic­tion of the Dera head.

Khat­tar is Known to be close to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi since days of both be­ing RSS Pracharaks. But as a chief min­is­ter, he has lit­er­ally been on the edge of a sword. Be­sides fac­tion fight­ing with­ing the party, po­lit­i­cal ob­servers note that Jat ag­i­ta­tion and post­con­vic­tion vi­o­lence have shown his ad­min­is­tra­tive skills in poor light.


Army­men con­duct flag march on Satur­day amidst cur­few that was im­posed fol­low­ing the ri­ots in Sirsa


Army jawans pro­ceed to­wards Dera Sacha Sauda sect head­quar­ters in Sirsa amidst a cur­few on Satur­day |

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