HC raps Khattar, says CM protected Deras
With death toll climbing to 36, several parts of Haryana remain tense, Home Ministry reviews security situation
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 |