Punjab, Haryana in lockdown mode ahead of Dera chief case verdict
The otherwise peaceful Panchkula was abuzz with activity on Thursday, a day ahead of the expected verdict in a sexual exploitation case agains, thousands of whose followers have descended on this Haryana town.
Security has been beefed up with around 5,000 police personnel have been deployed in the city, as authorities are anticipating large-scale violence in case the verdict goes against Ram Rahim.
Fearing trouble, especially if the verdict goes against the controversial Dera chief, thousands of jawans, including 15,000 paramilitary troops, have been deployed in sensitive areas across Punjab and Haryana.
Dera Sacha Sauda has a huge following in Punjab as well as Haryana and both the states are on a high alert.
However, in what appeared to be some relief for a stretched administrative machinery, Ram Rahim Singh said on Thursday that he would appear in person before the special CBI court tomorrow while appealing to his followers to maintain peace.
Dera followers have also been arriving in great numbers at the sect headquarters at Sirsa in Haryana.
Indefinite curfew in Sirsa, 3 nearby villages
Indefinite curfew would be imposed in Sirsa town and three nearby villages from 10pm tonight as a "precautionary measure" to maintain law and order ahead of tomorrow's court verdict.
Security forces evict followers
The Haryana Police and central forces tonight swung into action to flush out scores of Dera followers who have gathered in Panchkula over the past three days. An estimated 1.5 lakh Dera followers including men, women and children have gathered in Panchkula, where a CBI court is set to deliver its verdict.
Rajnath Singh assures help
Home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday assured Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of all help to deal with any situation which may arise after a court delivers its verdict in a sexual exploitation case against Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
DGP Authorized to impose curfew
If need be we have authorised the DGP to impose curfew wherever required. Directions have been issued for curfew in Sirsa, after reviewing security situation, said Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh while addressing a press meet.
Centre rushes parliamentary forces
The Centre has rushed as many as 150 companies of paramilitary forces to Punjab and Haryana to assist the police forces in maintaining law and order, a senior Union home ministry official said. One paramilitary company comprises over 100 personnel.
We are in constant touch with the governments of Punjab and Haryana and have given them adequate forces, he added.
Flag march held
Flag marches were carried out by security forces in Panchkula, Sirsa, Hissar and other places while many hospitals were also put on alert as a precautionary measure, the official said.
The police were keeping a close watch on social media, particularly WhatsApp groups, Facebook and Twitter, and have asked people not to spread rumours, he said.
Meanwhile in Chandigarh, a decision to suspend mobile Internet services was taken in a coordination committee meeting chaired by Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, V P Singh Badnore.
"Mobile Internet and data services have been suspended for 72 hours in Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh with immediate effect," Haryana Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Ram Niwas said.
Bus and train services cancelled
The ministry of railways had been requested to immediately stop 22 train movement towards Chandigarh for two days.
Similarly, buses of Haryana Roadways coming to Chandigarh and Panchkula had already been stopped for two days, he added added.
A joint control room of Haryana and Punjab would be set up in sector-9, Chandigarh where a police officer each from both the states would be deployed for better coordination, he said.
Section 144 imposed
Over 1.5 lakh followers have gathered in Panchkula in support of Dhera Chief Ram Rahim creating panic and violence in the state and nearby areas. Haryana DGP BS Sandhu told Chandigarh Newsline that it had been impossible to prevent the followers from the gathering in Panchkula. The administration has imposed Section 144 CrPC, but, said the DGP, the orders are specific to the movement of weapons only and not on the assembly of people.
Two stadium designated a Special Jails
Sirsa's Dalbir Singh Indoor Stadium and Panchkula's Chaudhary Tau Devi Lal Stadium Complex to be designated as "special jail".
25 August declared holiday in Chandigarh
The Punjab government has declared August 25 as a holiday for the all offices, boards, corporations, agencies and public sector organizations of Punjab Government.
Haryana police on High Alert
Speaking to ANI, Haryana's Additional Chief Secretary Ram Niwas said that apart from around 50,000 personnel of Haryana Police, 53 companies of central paramilitary forces have also been deployed.
He also said that every event will be recorded on video and drones have been employed for surveillance purposes, apart from which the Army has also been sounded in case of an emergency.