Gurmeet Ram Rahim convicted of rape: Manohar Lal Khattar must quit for building self-styled godman's aura

Soon after self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Inshan was convicted of rape and sent to jail by a special CBI court at 3 pm on Friday, thousands of his supporters who were allowed to assemble at Panchkula in Haryana went amok leaving a trail of destruction. By 8 pm the death toll had gone up to 28, and the number of injured went over 250, public property worth over several crores was burnt.

File image of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.  PTI

File image of Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. PTI

Violence spread in four states including National Capital Delhi. Panchkula remains the epicenter of the blatant criminal acts by the so-called devotees of a rapist baba. Although columns of state police and Central paramilitary forces stood guard on high court orders, neither were appropriately deployed nor given orders to use force to deal with the mob in the best possible manner under the given circumstances. It looked as though parts of north India were at war.

All these because of an incompetent and inefficient Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar who turned his blind eyes and deaf ears to intelligence reports given by his own policemen, to screaming headlines in media, to local news channels telecasting reports from inside Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s Dera Sachha Sauda where many devotees openly threatened of "destroying India in seconds" on camera. Some even warned of "unimaginable consequences" if the court goes by the words of "conspirators" against their "Pitaji" (father) who was "alleged of a minor charge". The chief minister ignored tell-tale signs like the gathering of thousands of supposed devotees at various Deras and other places. Many were armed with iron rods who literally took over the streets while it was an open secret that petrol bombs could be used by them if Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted of rape.

It should be noted that Khattar is in-charge of the home department and is thus directly responsible for policing, law and order in the state. He is singularly responsible for allowing all arms of the state machinery to collapse and give a free run to the self-styled godman to display his might who has now been convicted of rape.

It was a shameful sight for millions of Indians who watched the Gurmeet Ram Rahim cavalcade of over 200 SUVs from Sirsa to Panchuka move at a speed of over 100 km with armed commandoes as pilot and escort. It all added to his aura. He moved like the biggest political royalty of the nation, not like an alleged rapist who was summoned by the court to hear the verdict of a heinous crime that he had committed with a minor. Khattar is the man who is to be blamed for building that halo of the 'god on earth' even in that critical hour.

The big question is – what right Khattar now has to continue in the office of the chief minister. It’s time that he goes. He must go. He either has to be sacked by his political bosses, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah or resign. India and the state of Haryana can’t have a chief minister who cares more for the aura of a criminal who lived in the guise of a godman than for the life of ordinary people and their properties.

He chose to believe in Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s video appeal (and possibly his innocence) to his supporters to stay calm in the event of adversity and ignored all reports and indications that suggested of extreme violence by his followers. The turn of events proved that by issuing such video appeals Gurmeet Ram Rahim was fooling the state machinery while his supporters were preparing to unleash brutality on streets in parts of north India.

Even as human lives were lost and public properties burnt, Khattar came out in front of TV cameras looking spick and span, completely unruffled by the developing situation to give a most lacklustre statement which would neither inspire confidence among ordinary people nor instill fear of law among the rioters.

Khattar is now in power for three years. In the last three years, three times he allowed the state to be engulfed by violence – first in November 2014 when Rampal, another self-styled godman was to be arrested on court orders. Second, in February 2016 when at least 30 people died and public property worth over hundreds of crores of rupees was destroyed and the state was paralysed for ten days. On both the occasions it looked that there was no leadership in the state and it had the neither the ability nor the willingness to control the situation.

Today’s turn of events has proved beyond doubt that Khattar, an unknown RSS pracharak, who was foisted upon the chief minister’s post in October 2014 does not have the nerve to be in that position. The chief minister is best only in renaming an internationally acclaimed millennium city called Gurgaon to Gurugram and should go back to guru and gram, not run a state which has a population of over 2.5 crore people and borders the National Capital.

Updated Date: Aug 25, 2017 22:58 PM

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