Ram Rahim verdict: Army on standby in Panchkula, Sirsa as Dera followers gather in large numbers

The Army has been put on standby in the highly sensitive Panchkula and Sirsa districts to deal with any law and order situation that may arise in the wake of Friday's court verdict involving head of Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
Ram Rahim verdict: Army on standby in Panchkula,...
Edited by: India TV News Desk Chandigarh August 24, 2017 22:59 IST

The Army has been put on standby in the highly sensitive Panchkula and Sirsa districts to deal with any law and order situation that may arise in the wake of Friday's court verdict involving head of Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday spoke to Union Home minister Rajnath Singh and Defence minister Arun Jaitley and apprised them of the emerging law and order situation ahead of Friday's court verdict in Panchkula, official sources told PTI here.

The Haryana government had sent a requisition for deployment of Army in these two districts, the sources said.

Thousands of Dera followers have gathered in both the districts in an attempt to show solidarity with the sect chief, who is set to appear before a CBI court in Panchkula which is expected to pronounce verdict in a 15-year old sexual exploitation case.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday came down heavily on the Haryana government for allowing the huge gathering of Dera Sacha Sauda followers at Panchkula and asked the Centre to immediately provide adequate force.

Officials have also announced that an Sirsa city and three nearby villages will be under indefinite curfew from 10pm onwards as a precautionary measure.

According to sources Haryana had sought 25 Army columns for Panchkula. The force is likely to reach the two districts by tonight, they said.

Earlier, both Union ministers Singh and Jaitley, assured Khattar of all help to deal with any situation which may arise after the court delivers its verdict in the sexual exploitation case.

In a telephonic conversation, Union home minister Singh, who is in Cholpon-Ata in Kyrgyzstan, took stock of the law and order situation in Haryana in view of the large number of followers of the Dera chief arriving in Panchkula, Chandigarh and nearby areas.

The chief minister briefed Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley about the steps taken by the state government to maintain peace in the state, and both assured Khattar of help, the sources said.

The Centre has already rushed more than 15,000 paramilitary personnel to Punjab and Haryana. The two states, where Dera Sacha Sauda has a large following, are on a high alert.

Punjab authorises DGP to impose curfew if situation warrants

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has authorised the state DGP to impose curfew, if necessary, to maintain law and order.

Interacting with mediapersons after a cabinet meeting here, the chief minister said that the Western Command of the Indian Army was on standby to tackle any eventuality arising out of the judgement, expected on Friday afternoon.

The chief minister said that he had authorised the state director general of police (DGP) to take any decision he deemed fit, including imposition of curfew if needed, in order to ensure the safety and security of the people.

The entire police force was keeping a tight vigil to maintain peace and tranquillity in the state, said the chief minister Singh, who is personally monitoring the situation.

Any attempt to foment trouble in the state will be dealt with an iron hand, he said, adding that a security blanket had been put in place across the state.

Police personnel on the ground, under the supervision of senior officers, were maintaining strict vigil, particularly in the sensitive districts of the state.

The chief minister said that he had directed security forces to be prepared to respond sternly to any attempt to disrupt peace.

Over 12,000 Punjab Police personnel were on the ground, along with 85 companies of paramilitary forces, to secure the state, he added.

Recruits who are still under training had also been called out and deployed to strengthen the security, he said.

"Nobody wants trouble in Punjab and we will not allow anyone to vitiate the state's atmosphere," chief minister Singh said, adding that the Dera Sacha Sauda followers were also Punjabis and did not want to destroy peace.

Pointing out that all religious bodies, including the SGPC, had appealed to the people to remain calm, he said it was in the interest of all the people to ensure that the state remains peaceful at all costs.

While the government could not interfere in a judicial decision, it was duty-bound to be prepared, he said.

Punjab government offices in Chandigarh have been closed for a day, tomorrow, along with schools and colleges in the state.

Internet services were being suspended for 72 hours beginning Thursday evening following a collective decision to this effect by the authorities in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

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