Dera verdict toll: 3 hours of arson, 31 dead : The Tribune India

Dera verdict toll: 3 hours of arson, 31 dead

CHANDIGARH: As many as 31 people have died and scores of them injured as violence broke out in Punjab and Haryana with Panchkula bearing the brunt of violence. Minutes after Sirsa Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of rape by a special CBI court, his followers went on the rampage torching public property.

Dera verdict toll: 3 hours of arson, 31 dead

Vehicles torched by Dera followers in Sector 5, Panchkula, on Friday. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari



Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 25

A trail of death and destruction descended on Panchkula as soon as  Sirsa Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted by a special CBI court here in a rape case.

Followers of Ram Rahim, who had gathered here in thousands over the past four days, went on a rampage, hurling stones, vandalising media vehicles and setting afire several vehicles, many among them two-wheelers.

As many as 28 deaths were reported from Panchkula while three deaths were reported from Sirsa. Around 200 were reported injured. 

DCP Panchkula was suspended for negligence in imposition of Section 144.

Thick smoke billowed high in the sky as terrified local residents locked themselves inside their homes as scenes outside shook even the toughest of the tough to the bone.

“My motorcycle has been burnt down. I had parked it near the road and gone nearby for some work,” said a young man working with a private company.

A steady stream of ambulances was bringing scores of injured people to the local civil hospital.

At least one person was seen lying motionless by the roadside.

Many women among the followers who had gathered here gave a tough time to the police and paramilitary personnel.

Immediately after the CBI court here convicted the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, many of his followers broke police barricades and security cordons.

At least three OB vans of private television channels were damaged. Two vans were overturned by a mob.

CBI judge Jagdeep Singh, while holding the 50-year-old Dera chief guilty of rape, said the quantum of sentence would be pronounced on August 28, CBI counsel HPS Verma told reporters outside the court.

Punjab and Haryana High court had come down heavily on the Haryana government for its apparent inability to maintain law and order in the state ahead of the CBI court verdict and pulled it up for not imposing Section 144 CrPC correctly to prevent the huge gathering of Dera followers in Panchkula.

The bench had asserted that the court did not want a repeat of situation similar to the one witnessed in February last year when violence during Jat reservation stir in Haryana claimed 30 lives and property worth hundreds of crores of rupees was damaged by arsonists.

Friday’s violence which broke out here was third major incident after last year’s Jat agitation violence and November 2015 when there was a two-week tense standoff between some of the self-styled godman Rampal’s followers and the police in Hisar during which five women and a child had died.

Rampal had later been arrested after a tense standoff between some of his supporters and the police after close to 15,000 of his followers were evacuated from the sprawling premises.

The Army was called out and curfew was imposed in 10 districts of Punjab’s Malwa region, home to a large number of Dera Sacha Sauda followers.

Police have launched a major crackdown and arrested some supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda, including a member of its state-level committee, an official spokesperson said.

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said the decision to call out the Army was taken to prevent any loss of life or damage to public/ private property in the 10 districts—Sangrur, Barnala, SAS Nagar (Mohali), Bathinda, Mansa, Ferozepur, Fazilka, Faridkot, Sri Muktsar Sahib and Moga.

“The Army was staging flag-march in the curfew-bound areas of Punjab to restore the confidence of the people,” he said. With PTI

LIVE UPDATES

*Dera followers from Haryana are being assembled at Ambala bus station where they are being boarded into buses for Pipli, Yamunagar and Pehowa. SDMs of these districts are deputed to ensure that they reach their respective towns.  

*15 bodies have arrived at the Panchkula civil hospital; around 150 injured refrerred to various hospitals

* Eight bodies have reached the PGI, Chandigarh; five bodies at GMCH-32; 50 injured at the PGI, 39 at GMCH-32 and 10 injured at GMSH-16

*Most of the dead are Dera Premis

*Five-star Hotel Holiday Inn in Sector 3, Income Tax office in Sector 2, and petrol pump in Sector 4 of Panchkula have been put on fire and destroyed. Panchkula’s skyline turns black

Curfew imposed, additional Army called in Panchkula. Power supply to most areas snapped. Situation tense and going out of control as the mob go on the rampage.  

*Three killed, seven injured in police firing in Sirsa as Dera followers attempt to enter Sirsa town

*All trains cancelled from Ambala

*Dera followers target the media; an OB van set on fire and two others were damaged in Panchkula. A print media cameraman was hurt and his camera damaged. Security forces use teargas shells to disperse the mob in Sector 3 of Panchkula, which seemed out of control     

KC Theatre and Raj Hans Mall in Sector 5, Panchkula, set on fire. Despite curfew, the mob remains out of control and continues with fire, stone-pelting and scuffles                                                                    

*Curfew imposed in Panchkula

*In Mansa, two vehicles of Income Tax department torched                      

*In Ludhiana, police ask shopkeepers at the railway station and on Ferozepur Road to close shops                                        

*In Ferozepur, DC/SSP meet Premis exhorting them to maintain peace                       

*In Sangrur, miscreants set Lehragaga tehsil office on fire and try to set the fard kendra on fire                       

*Curfew clamped in Ferozepur, Mansa and Bathinda

*In Panchkula, violent dera followers, who outnumbered the cops on duty, broke police cordon at Sectors 4-5 roundabout and started marching towards the court complex in Sector 1. There are also reports of stone-pelting by the mob and scuffles with the security forces and media. The cops on duty seem helpless even as the Army has taken over the law and order situation in Panchkula. Situation turns highly volatile and locals lock themselves indoors, fearing violence.                       

*At Rohtak, jail authorities have no official information about the shifting of Gurmeet Ram Rahim here.                      However, tight security arrangements have been made outside the district jail. A jail official confirms that he may be shifted to Rohtak jail.                                         

*After the verdict, traders lower the shutters of their shops as a precautionary measure                       

*Market areas being shut down in Kurukshetra. Dera followers gathering at naam charcha ghars; administration on alert                       

*In Muktsar, nearly 25 masked men hurl petrol bombs at a petrol pump at Burj Sidhwan village in Lambi in Muktsar, says Jagdish Singh, husband of the village sarpanch. Fire doused                       

*TV reports say three dera supporters die in Panchkula                       

*Muktsar: Some masked men came on two motorcycles and lob petrol bombs on Telephone Exchange at Tappakhera village in Lambi in Muktsar. Gurjinder Singh village sarpanch confirms it. He claimed miscreants also fired in air.                       

*New Delhi. Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh to be taken to Western Command Chandimandir. From there he will be taken in helicopter to jail nominated by Haryana. The western Command entrance is some 2 km from the court in Panchkula                 

*Punjab CM appeals for peace in Punjab. Forces prepared to check any violence                       

*Ministers/Congress MLAs asked to coordinate with police and civil administration to check situation.                       

*Fatehgarh Sahib peaceful...no incident reported..Police keeping a close eye on anti-social elements                       

*In Karnal, Dera followers are assembling near naam charcha ghar in Kambopura and Kunjpura                        

*Sirsa: Dera Sacha Sauda spokesperson Dr Dilawar Insan says injustice has been done and they will go to appeal against the order.                       

*Dera followers block national highway at Dirba in Sangrur district                                         

*Curfew also imposed in Fazilka                       

*Dera spokesperson Dilawar Insaan says history is replete with instances where social reformers have been crucified like this. The spokesperson says the dera stood for welfare of humanity. He appeals all to maintain peace                                           

Curfew imposed in Patiala                                             

Rohtak: Barricades put up around district jail in Sunariya village, CRPF personnel deputed at barricades                       

Solan: Baddi SP Rahul Nath has sought at least five additional reserves as a precautionary measure though the situation was under control in this bordering belt which shares a border with Haryana, police in a state of high alert in Parwanoo too                       

Punjab CM tells DGP to impose curfew in dera-dominated areas. Orders passed to impose curfew at four places in Punjab                       

New Delhi: Soon after his arrival from Kyrgyz Republic Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to chief Ministers of Haryana and Punjab and enquired about the ground situation. Singh assured all possible help to the state governments. Already 200 companies are sent to states. Sources said, if the states demand more central forces the same will be provided for strengthening deployment                                             

Sources in MHA said HM asked for details on the measures taken to control the situation                       

Curfew imposed in Faridkot                       

Situation is tense in Kotkapura and Faridkot as all shop shutters have been pulled down after the verdict                       

Security beefed up outside former CM Parkash Singh Badal’s residence at Badal village                       

Even as Mohali was peaceful so far, Deputy Commissioner Gurpreet Kaur Sapra says the Army has been called in the town as a precautionary measure. She says around 6,000 dera followers provided safe passage and buses to return home from Panchkula through Zirakpur                       

Curfew to be imposed at Malout from 7 pm

Punjab Department of Medical Education and Research has extended the last date of joining the allotted colleges/courses for second round of online counselling                                

Four motorcyclists try to set two 132 KV power stations of PSPCL on fire in Kotkapura by hurling petrol bombs. While the petrol bomb failed to hit the target on Muktsar Road-situated power station, power stations on Deviwala Road in Kotkapura catch fire. However, security persons on duty douse the fire                       

Tension prevails in Sirsa as followers set milk plant on fire; an OB van of a news channel was attacked and hundreds of dera followers have started moving towards Sirsa town from Dera Sacha Sauda raising apprehensions of violence

*In Karnal, police recover around 40 litres of diesel from an ambulance of Dera Sacha Sauda near Bastara toll plaza; police also detain several people carrying petrol and diesel, confirms SP Jashandeep Singh Randhawa    

                 

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