M A I N   N E W S

Murder case against Baba Ram Rahim
Mobs torch buses, trains
Tribune Reporters

Trains cancelled:  
Ferozepur-Mumbai Punjab Mail 
n Haridwar-Sriganganagar 4711 
n Ludhiana-Sirsa passenger train 
n Delhi-Bathinda Intercity Express

Chandigarh, February 27
Protesters, said to be followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda, went on a rampage at several places in Punjab and Haryana resenting registration of a murder case by the CBI against dera head Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

There were reports of torching of at least five trains, over 30 buses and widespread damage to public property at various places, including Sirsa, Jind, Karnal, Hisar, Fatehabad and Kaithal in Haryana and Moga, Barnala, Bagha Purana, Abohar, Mansa, Bathinda, Kotkapura and Ludhiana in Punjab.

A Meerut resident was badly burnt while trying to escape from a CTU bus that was torched at Mithapur village, near Ambala. The bus was on way to Yamunanagar from Chandigarh.

More than 30 persons have been taken into custody and security tightened with tension spreading in two states. There were unconfirmed reports that district administrations had ordered evacuation of railway stations at most of the affected places.

Bogies of the Ferozepur-Ludhiana passenger train were set on fire at the Moga and Ludhiana railway stations. The Fazilka-Bathinda train was also set ablaze at the Romana Albel Singh railway station, near Kotkapura. The mob also attacked the Dukheri railway station, near Ambala, and set several rooms on fire. A ticket counter was set afire at the Kesari railway station, also near Ambala.

Public transport was taken off the roads after a mob burnt down at least six buses in Sirsa and Fatehabad. Buses were also torched at Moga, Bagha Purana, Abohar, Bathinda, Jind, Mansa and Ambala. According to reports, Punjab and Haryana have sealed their borders.

Muktsar witnessed brandishing of weapons and several rounds of firing in the air. A 66-KV grid substation of the PSEB was damaged at Gidderbaha. At Bathinda, a mob torched a post office while a BDPO office was damaged at Talwandi Sabo.

At Jind, a vehicle of a tehsildar was set ablaze, while the mob tried to burn down a telephone exchange at Mansa. In Barnala, there was a bid to set ablaze the SDM’s office complex and the telephone exchange. Property was damaged at the Tappa railway station.

At most places the mob comprised of local youth, laced with combustible material. Their faces were muffled and were on motorcycles and tractor trolleys. The local administration was taken by surprise by the attackers.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has directed law-enforcing agencies to deal firmly with anyone trying to take law into his hands. The Haryana government has also issued similar instructions.

The CBI had yesterday booked the dera head and four others for the alleged murder of dera manager Faqir Chand in 1991. Dera spokesperson Pawan Insan appealed to the followers to observe patience. “There is widespread resentment among dera followers,” said Insan.

(Inputs from Kanchan Vasudev, Sushil Manav, Kulwinder Sandhu, Chander Prakash, Raj Sehdosh, Bijendra Ahlawat, Rajay Deep, Bhanu P Lohumi, Pramod Mehta, Anirudh Gupta, Shariq Majeed, Raman Mohan, Satish Seth and Suman Bhatnagar).



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