Ram Rahim verdict: Will the Khattar government step down?
Public and private properties were damaged, over 30 deaths and 250 critically injured after a special CBI court held Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of rape - dating back to 2002.
Post the verdict, enraged followers of the self-styled Godman outraged - which took a violent turn, affecting Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, and parts of Delhi, and Section 144 of the CrPC had to be imposed to restore peace.
While many are questioning the lackadaisical approach of the Haryana State Government and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, it should be kept in mind that this is not the first time the Khattar Government has shown blatant apathy and negligence.
In the case of self-styled godman Rampal, who claimed to be the successor of Kabir, the Haryana Government allowed protesters to gather at his ashram in Hisar - from where Rampal was arrested along with his followers in 2014. 5 women and 1 child were killed in the clashes between the police and the protestors.
The protestors were booked on charges of attempt to murder, sedition, hoarding illegal weapons, conspiracy and aiding and abetting suicide-mongers.
Background - Rampal triggered outrage when he criticised the central text of Arya Samaj, giving rise to violence between the two sects. He was charged with murder and spent 22 months in jail, but was released on bail later. Post which he skipped court hearing and was finally arrested in 2014.
The Haryana Government clearly did not take a leaf out of the violence that erupted in the Rampal case and let violence escalate during the 2016 Jat agitation - reservation for the Jats in government jobs and educational institutions.
In spite of being fully aware that the Jats would hold state wide protests, under the garb of 'peaceful demonstrations' the Haryana Government failed to realised the seriousness of the matter, which led to the damage of properties worth crores in Haryana. Several people lose their lives before the Army could contain the situation.
Is the BJP's proximity to the Dera Sacha Sauda Chief to be blamed for the situation at present?
In 2014, the Dera Chief Ram Rahim had extended support to the BJP for both the Haryana State elections and the General Elections. After the poll results were announced, many BJP candidates, who won the Vidhan Saba Polls reached Sirsa to meet the Dera Chief who had extended support for the party.
It is evident that the closeness of the ruling government in the State, to the Dera Chief and his followers, who campaigned for BJP's victory, could be a reason for the adept measures not being taken to avoid gathering in Panchkula, ahead of the rape verdict.
Even after the massacre, Chief Minister Khattar has neither offered apology nor assurance. His cabinet ministers could only offer vague comments like the law will take its own course.
Manohar Lal Khattar should take responsibility for the grave negligence of the State Government, which did not take preventive and precautionary measures, even after directed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had warned of violence much before the verdict was pronounced in the case.