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Panchkula violence as it happened: Death toll rises to 38; Ram Rahim Singh case verdict to be announced at 2.30 pm

Maverick self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Friday convicted of rape by a court in Panchkula, triggering widespread violence in Haryana

FP Staff August 27, 2017 21:58:21 IST
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Panchkula violence as it happened: Death toll rises to 38; Ram Rahim Singh case verdict to be announced at 2.30 pm

Highlights

13:31 (ist)

Villagers near Dera HQ arm themselves with bricks and sticks to take on violent premis

Fearing violence after Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's sentencing in a rape case on Monday, a village close to the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters readied itself to face angry followers with a stockpile of stones, sticks, bricks and iron rods.

PTI reported that villagers in Shahpur Beghu, 500 metres from the sprawling headquarters of the Dera, said they were fully prepared to face violent followers of the self-styled godman who was convicted of rape on 25 August.

12:56 (ist)

Liberal atmosphere, equality reason behind increasing number of followers

The Dera also insisted the followers to change their surnames to 'insan'. It was seen as a rule devised to spread across the message that the 'Dera' was more respectful of humanity than any other quality. No wonder then that the Dera had a substantial following among the people from the lower rungs of the much abhorred caste hierarchy. Apart from a liberal atmosphere, the Dera also seemed to have the promise of a new social status to its followers.

11:07 (ist)

Situation under control in Haryana, says Union home ministry

The Home Ministry said on Monday the situation in Haryana three days after the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, was still tense but under control.

"As per report dated 28 August, of DGP Control Room, Haryana, total casualties have been 35 with 17 in Panchkula, six in Sirsa and 12 in Chandigarh and total number of injured is 204," the Ministry said in a statement.

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) remains imposed in all districts of Haryana. Columns of Army are doing flag march continuously,"  the statement added.

IANS

07:38 (ist)

Is Rohtak's situation similar to what it faced in 2016 violence?

Vinod, a local, compared the current situation in Rohtak with last year's violent protests by Jats for reservation. He said that security forces were on the ground last year too, but a mob would appear out of nowhere and tear the place down in no time. "Even recalling those scenes gives me a shudder," the apprehensive shopkeeper said.

Rohtak-based activist and member of the central committee of All India Democratic Women's Association, Jagmati Sangwan, too found the recent turmoil reminiscent of last year's violence.

"We don't want to see Rohtak burning again after the 2016 reservation stir," said anxious Sangwan, hoping that law would prevail on Monday.

She opined that the two women whose rape complaint has landed the Dera chief behind bars must be only the tip of the iceberg and that the list of Singh's victims must be longer.

Reported by Sat Singh, 101 reporters

18:18 (ist)

IG Police Rohtak, Navdeep Singh Virk says special courtroom has been made in Rohtak jail for sentencing 

Inspector General of Police, Rohtak Range, Navdeep Singh Virk addressed the press and said that a helicopter will land at a helipad near Sunaria jail. A special courtroom has been made in the prison to deliver the quantum of sentence. He corroborated the details that Haryana ADGP Mohammad Akil provided and said that the judgment will be announced at 2.30. When asked how the media will find out about the judgment, he said that arrangements have been made so that judges can give a byte to the press after the proceedings. 

Navdeep Singh added that entire police service in the city has been deployed and 23 paramilitary companies will be active in Rohtak. He also said that police personnel from nearby districts have been supplied to Rohtak. "We are 100 percent certain that no untoward incident will happen during the proceeding," he said. Regarding media reports that 10,000 to 15,000 Dera forces have allegedly snuck into Rohtak, he said that intelligence forces deny theses reports. 

Regarding the involvement of the Army, he said that the forces have not been called in and will mostly "not be required." He added that the Army conducted a recce of the area around the prison and that the forces are on standby. 

He added that Section 144 has been imposed but no curfew is in place in Rohtak and that authorities have made sure that daily life will not be interrupted in the city. He added that the court premises and the residence of the judges are protected and flag marches have also been held in the area.

17:29 (ist)

Haryana DGP addresses media, says 52 cases have been registered so far and 926 arrests have been made 

BS Sandhu, Haryana DGP said that a curfew has only been implemented in Sirsa and that no other location has a curfew in place now. He added that there is peace across the state and the top priority of the Haryana police is maintaining peace in the state. "The top priority now is to ensure that law and order is maintained when the sentencing of convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief takes place in Rohtak tomorrow," he said.

 
Sandhu also assured that police protection will be provided to the media  and the police is prepared to handle any mob situations. “I assure you that the media is safe, we are part of the same system,” he said at the presser. 

He stated that police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in Rohtak and army personnel are also on standby. Dera ashrams have been searched and 103 deras have been sanitized, he added. In terms of transportation, bus and railway services, especially from Delhi to Katra have been resumed. Trains towards Hisra and Rohtak have a few restrictions in place and schools will have a holiday in the state. 

He said that 52 cases have been registered so far and 926 people have been arrested. As for casualties, 38 people have died in the violence. 6 casualties are from Sirsa and 32 are from Panchkula. He added that all bodies in Sirsa have been identified, but in Panchkula, 24 have been identified through post-mortem, the rest are yet to be identified.

Of the 250 injured, Sandhu claims that only 17 people are admitted, out of which 14 are civilians and 3 are policemen.

Sat Singh from 101 reporters , adds that authorities have recovered 14 motorcycles, one tractor, four other two-wheelers and one car, besides, a large number of weapons and other objectionable items.

16:46 (ist)

Haryana Home Department orders suspension of mobile internet and SMS services in state until 29 August 

Haryana Government has extended the suspension of mobile internet services, including 2G, 3G, 4G, CDMA and GPRS, all SMS services and all dongle services provided on mobile networks, except voice calls, in the State till 11.30 am on 29 August, 2017. 
        

Besides, internet lease lines in the premises of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa have been suspended until 29 August. Any person found guilty of violation of these orders would be liable for legal action.
        
While stating this in Chandigarh on Sunday, Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Ram Niwas, said that the orders had been issued under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order in the State in view of quantum of punishment to be announced by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in the case of Dera Sacha Sauda Chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, on 28 August.   
        
“The orders have been taken considering the critical law and order situation and to maintain peace and communal harmony in the State, and to prevent any loss of life or further damage to public and private property. It has been reported by IG/CID that the situation is tense and violence may again continue for several days, especially on 28 August, when the quantum of punishment will be announced. Besides, it has been reported by Deputy Commissioner, Sirsa and Superintendent of Police, Sirsa that the devotees may resort to breach of peace and tranquillity, and arson leading to damage to public and private properties, Sirsa being the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda. Since the environment is tense, rumours of different kinds may be spread through broadband and internet lease lines in the premises of Dera Sacha Sauda,” he added.


        
Directions have also been issued to Haryana telecom service providers and those providing internet lease lines in the premises of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa to ensure compliance with these orders. 

Reported by Sat Singh, 101 reporters

14:29 (ist)

Jain monk Tarun Sagar Maharaj calls Ram Rahim more dangerous than Osama Bin Laden

According to Amar Ujala, the Jain monk, who was controversially called for delivering a lecture in the Haryana Assembly last year, said that people like Ram Rahim kill the faith of crores of people. 

12:51 (ist)

Robert Vadra targets Manohar Lal Khattar government

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar should resign taking responsibility for the violence that followed the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra said on Sunday.

"Panchkula is burning with 36 dead and 250 injured. My heartfelt condolences to the families of those affected... Khattar, the CM of Haryana, the nation wants you to take responsibility of security lapses and resign," Vadra tweeted.

Vadra lauded the Punjab and Haryana High Court order to compensate for the losses suffered in the violence by auctioning the Dera chief's property.

"I appreciate the Punjab and Haryana High Court for pulling up Khattar government (for) letting the situation escalate," he said.

He also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state of questioning his integrity and harassing him. Vadra said it was the time for the state government to prove its integrity and take responsibility for the "massacre".

"Time and again, Khattar government has witch-hunted me, questioned me and my integrity, harassed me, without basis. Today, I ask them to prove their integrity and take responsibility of a glaring massacre, which happened under their nose. The whole country is shocked. India's image across the world has taken a setback. Citizens need to unite and protect each other. I request the central government to give us our basic right of feeling safe and secure, ensuring such incidents of rioting do not occur again," he said.

IANS

12:31 (ist)

A bit of the idea of Deras in Punjab

According to The Indian Express, Deras are sects which came out of the failure of the Sikh religion to guarantee social equality. This is the reason why most of the members of the Deras belong to the Scheduled Caste community in Punjab. According to the The border state has the highest percentage of Dalit population in India: 29 percent. 

11:49 (ist)

Dera supporters being prevented from entering Rohtak

Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh will be sentenced inside the Rohtak jail on Monday. Keeping this in mind, the Rohtak Police has made thorough security arrangements to tackle any untoward incident. 

NDTV quoted Navdeep Singh Virk of Rohtak Police as saying, "A total of 28 paramilitary companies have been requested for security in the city ahead of Ram Rahim's sentencing and 23 have already been stationed; 5 are on their way." 

12:54 (ist)

A look at some cases against the Dera chief

Ranjit Singh murder case: Ram Rahim is charged with involvement in the murder conspiracy of Dera manager  Ranjit Singh in July 2002, allegedly killed by the Dera chief's supporters, according to a The Times of India report.

Ram Chander Chatterpati murder case: Sirsa-based journalist Chatterpati was killed on 23 October, 2002, for reporting about illegal activities inside the Dera headquarters and Ram Rahim was booked for alleged involvement in the murder conspiracy.

Army advisory: Army issued advisory in December 2010 about weapons training to Dera activists at Sirsa. High court issued notice to Haryana government and sought details

11:54 (ist)

Who is Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh?

He glides through the air dressed in pink robes in his promotional videos and in real life is known to ride powerful, souped up bikes to congregations, the persona as flashy as the vehicle itself.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim, head of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect who has two state governments on the edge as he awaits a verdict on a rape case, is not the regular godman in saffron but a curious amalgam of reel and real defying easy description.

His Twitter profile describes him as  "Spiritual Saint/Philanthropist/Versatile Singer/Allrounder Sportsperson/Film Director/Actor/Art Director/Music Director/Writer/Lyricist/Autobiographer/DOP".

For his followers, their leader is all this and more. The bejewelled head of the Sirsa headquartered sect, who turned 50 this Independence Day, holds sway over millions in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.

He was born in Sri Gurusar Modia village in Rajasthan's Sri Ganganagar district on 15 August, 1967, to a landlord father. An only child, Gurmeet helped his father in the farm in his early years.

Gurmeet, it is said, was always spiritual. When he was seven, he was picked out by Shah Satnam Singh, then head of the Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa, who anointed him Ram Rahim.

Sixteen years later, in 1990, Satnam Singh invited his disciples from all over the country for a grand satsang where 23-year-old Gurmeet Ram Rahim was chosen as his successor.

The Dera chief, who completed his high school, is married to Harjeet Kaur. They have two daughters, Charanpreet and Amanpreet, both of whom are married, and a son Jasmeet. He also adopted a girl.

The story also goes that he loved butter and ghee and took part in several sport activities.

Combining entrepreneurial skills with his  job as the spiritual head of the sect, he launched  his 'MSG' range of "swadeshi and organic" products about two years ago. — PTI

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Aug 28, 2017 - 22:43 (IST)

Curfew to be relaxed in Sirsa between 7 am and 7 pm tomorrow

With no instances of violence being reported here after the sentencing of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the district administration decided to relax curfew from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm tomorrow. During the period, schools and colleges will also remain open.

 
The decision was taken at a high level meeting between authorities. Sirsa town is home to the sprawling Dera headquarters where the sect's followers had gathered in large numbers ahead of Ram Rahim's conviction.

Aug 28, 2017 - 22:33 (IST)

Copy of CBI court order sentencing Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in jail

Copy of judgement accessed by Sat Singh, member of 101Reporters. 

Aug 28, 2017 - 22:11 (IST)

Ram Rahim Singh kept alone in cell

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the self-styled godman has been allocated a single cell in the Rohtak prison, NDTV reported. The news channel also said that the Dera chief was reportedly crying on his first night in the prison. 

Known for maintaining a flamboyant lifestyle, and an unusually blingy sartorial sense, the 20 year rigorous imprisonment came as a set-back for the Dera chief. His lawyers have decided to appeal in higher courts for some relief.  

Aug 28, 2017 - 21:58 (IST)

20 years might not suffice considering Sirsa godman's criminal past

Whether or not the 20 years of jail may suffice Ram Rahim, the punishment needs to be examined along with other allegations of crime against the self-proclaimed godman. Times Now reported that several more sadhvis were raped.

Besides rape, Singh has been accused of encouraging his followers to undergo castrations to gain proximity with God. There are also questions over the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati who exposed Singh's wrongdoings way back in 2002. 

Read full article here

Aug 28, 2017 - 21:58 (IST)
Haryana govt sends report on Dera violence to Centre
 
 
The Haryana government has sent a factual report to the Centre on the violence reported in various parts of the state following the conviction of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case, but there is no mention of any lapses on part of the authority, officials said.
 
 
The BJP-led state government has, in the report, narrated the incidents which took place in various parts of Haryana,the number of deaths and those injured, and about destruction of properties, they said. However, there is no mention of any lapses on part of the authority in controlling the large scale violence.
 
There was also no mention about whether the 20,000 paramilitary personnel sent by the central government were deployed properly in the northern state, officials told PTI

Aug 28, 2017 - 21:24 (IST)

Gurmeet Ram Rahim harassed his adopted ‘daughter's husband', says Beant Singh, former bodyguard of Ram Rahim: Times Now

Aug 28, 2017 - 21:23 (IST)

Delhi will continue to remain on high alert: Delhi Police

Aug 28, 2017 - 20:20 (IST)

Former CBI officer says investigators could trace 30 to 40 victims sexually assaulted by Dera chief

Aug 28, 2017 - 20:14 (IST)

Dera chief used to rape sadhvis often; murdered many men:Times Now reports 

Times Now quoted a man named Beant Singh, who claimed to be a former aide of the Dera chief for 15 years, said that Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has murdered several people and has disposed off bodies in the near-by lake and some of them are even buried in the Dera headquarters. 

He also said that the Dera chief is a known assaulter and has raped almost 90 percent of the sadhvis in the Dera were sexually assaulted or raped. 

Aug 28, 2017 - 20:06 (IST)

Dera chief one of many self-styled godmen' embroiled in scandals

India's self-styled "godmen" have legions of devoted followers, but several have been embroiled in scandals in recent years. As a court convicts Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh — known as the "guru in bling" — in a rape case, here are some of the more famous godmen:

  • Rampal Maharaj
  • Ashutosh Maharaj
  • Asaram Bapu
  • Swami Nithyananda
  • Sathya Sai Baba

Read full article here

Maverick self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was on Friday convicted of rape by a court in Panchkula, triggering widespread violence and arson in Haryana where 30 people were killed and over 250 injured after which curfew was imposed in Panchkula and several other places.

Arson by the frenzied followers of the head of Dera Sacha Sauda was also witnessed in Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan within a few hours of the pronouncement of the judgment by the CBI court here in the 2002 case.

CBI judge Jagdeep Singh held Ram Rahim, the 50-year-old flamboyant chief of the Dera, guilty of rape in a case that was registered on the basis of an anonymous written complaint in 2002 that he had sexually exploited two female followers.

Panchkula violence as it happened Death toll rises to 38 Ram Rahim Singh case verdict to be announced at 230 pm

At least 30 people were killed in the violence in Haryana. PTI

On the basis of the report, a case was registered against him in December 2002 by the CBI on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The quantum of sentence against Ram Rahim, who enjoys 'Z' category security, will be pronounced on 28 August, CBI counsel HPS Verma told reporters outside the court.

The punishment can be a jail term not less than seven years but may even extend to life imprisonment.

Ram Rahim travelled to the court from Sirsa, about 260 km from Chandigarh, in a huge convoy of vehicles which had his security guards and several followers.

As the news spread and his thousands of followers gathered near the Panchkula court went on the rampage, Ram Rahim was taken by a helicopter to a jail in Rohtak.

His followers, ironically called 'premis' (who believe in love), unleashed violence and set afire a large number of vehicles, buildings and railway stations in Panchkula, otherwise a peaceful city on the outskirts of Chandigarh, as well as in Sirsa, where the Dera is based, and in Punjab.

Media persons and assets were among the main targets of the mobs.

Police and paramilitary used force, including firing and lobbing teargas shells, to control the volatile situation created by the Dera followers who had gathered in thousands defying the prohibitory orders like Section 144 of the CrPC, which bars assembly of more than four people at one place.

"Seventeen people are dead and at least 200 are injured," said Vivek Bhadu, Chief Medical Officer at the civil hospital in Panchkula. He said most of the deaths were due to bullet injuries.

Haryana police chief BS Sandhu, however, said on Friday night that only six people had received bullet injuries.

Addressing a press conference, he said 60 policemen, including two SSPs, were also injured in the violence.

He said 550 people have been rounded up and three rifles, three pistols along with live cartridges have been recovered.

He said curfew, which was clamped in Panchkula in the evening, has been lifted but certain restrictions are still in place.

The DGP said Panchkula was now peaceful and all Dera supporters have moved out even as some restrictions were still in place. Flag marches will be carried out in Panchkula by security forces, he informed.

He said that except for Sirsa, where the sect is headquartered, situation in rest of Haryana is under control.

Another seven deaths were recorded at PGIMER hospital in Chandigarh and four at Government Medical College in Chandigarh, officials said. Two deaths were reported from Sirsa where seven were injured.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the violence, terming it as "deeply distressing" and urged everyone to maintain peace.

Modi, who reviewed the situation with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, said the law and order situation is being closely monitored.

"Urged officials to work round the clock to restore normalcy and provide all possible assistance that is required," he tweeted.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, under attack over the situation, on Friday night admitted that there were lapses but asserted that appropriate action was being taken.

"This should not have happened... Lapses have been identified and we are taking appropriate steps," he told reporters, responding to a volley of questions.

"All those who have taken law into their hands will be punished. We have identified some culprits including those who fired (from the mob at security forces), some of whom have been nabbed and action will be taken against them," he said.

The government will assess the damage, he added.

Khattar ducked a question on how thousands of Dera followers managed to reach Panchkula despite Section 144 being imposed much earlier.

Panchkula violence as it happened Death toll rises to 38 Ram Rahim Singh case verdict to be announced at 230 pm

File image of Manohar Lal Khattar. PTI

He said the damage caused to some media personnel's equipment during the violence in Panchkula will be taken care of by the government.

The state government will provide full compensation within a week to those persons whose property was damaged today, the chief minister said.

At least 32 incidents of violence and arson were reported from Malwa region of Punjab, police said. However, no casualty was reported.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said curfew has been imposed in 10 districts of Malwa region as a precautionary measure and appealed to the people to maintain peace.

"The Army is staging flag march in the curfew-bound areas of Punjab to restore the confidence of the people," he said.

In Punjab, Malout and Balluanna railway stations were partially torched, Northern Railway spokesperson Neeraj Sharma told PTI.

The Northern Railway had cancelled 211 trains to and from Haryana since 23 August up to 27 August. Of the total number of trains cancelled, 91 are Express trains and 120 are passenger trains.

The railways has also short terminated/short originated 24 trains.

"In all, the services of 236 trains have been affected one way or the other due to the law and order situation in Punjab-Haryana," Sharma said.

The unrest reached even Delhi where two coaches of a stationary train were set ablaze at Anand Vihar Railway Station, after which prohibitory orders were promulgated in 11 districts of the national capital.

In neighbouring Loni in Uttar Pradesh's Gaziabad district, a bus was set afire.

A vehicle was also set on fire by a group of people in Rajasthan's Sriganganagar, the birthplace of the Dera chief.

Following large scale destruction by the mobs, curfew was imposed in Panchkula, Sirsa and Kaithal in Haryana and Punjab's Mansa, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Patiala, Sangrur and Barnala and Faridkot, the areas considered as stronghold of the Dera followers.

Six columns of the Army, comprising a total of 500 to 600 soldiers, were deployed in Panchkula.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, meanwhile, ruled that the losses caused due to the violence will be recovered from the Dera.

Hearing a PIL, the full bench of the court also asked the state to use force and weapons, if needed, to maintain peace.

The court will have further hearing in the matter tomorrow.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh called up chief ministers of Haryana and Punjab to take stock of the situation.

Singh, who rushed to his office directly from the airport after arriving from Kyrgyz Republic, assured them all assistance in restoring peace.

Singh also held a meeting with top officials and directed the central agencies to monitor the situation and apprise him regularly, said a home ministry official.

With inputs from agencies

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