IN A show of strength ahead of the scheduled August 25 verdict by a special CBI court in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, hundreds of his followers swarmed the Panchkula Sector 1 district court premises in Panchkula on Saturday, appearing to have taken the police by surprise. Singh is due to appear in the court on judgement day.
On Saturday, his followers, both men and women, began assembling at the district court complex from about 8.30 am and shouted slogans praising him. While many were from Panchkula, others had come from Ambala and some areas of Himachal Pradesh, including Parwanoo and Nalagarh. Many supporters seemed to believe that Singh would appear in court on Saturday as two separate murder cases against him were heard and adjourned to September 16. They gathered in strength both inside and outside the court complex despite the driving rain.
Panchkula police seemed to have no advance intelligence about the gathering. It was only after hundreds had already gathered inside the court that the police belatedly barricaded entry routes to the district court and sealed the entry gate of the Mini Secretariat. At short notice, more than 600 police personnel were called to the district court. Senior officers, including DCP Ashok Kumar, ACP Mukesh Malhotra and SHOs of all police stations rushed to the spot.
Panchkula DCP Ashok Kumar said, “We did not expect the Dera followers to come to Panchkula today. Though not a single Dera follower entered the court building, they managed to come inside the gates of the court complex…. Later, we barricaded all the routes to the district court and stopped them at a distance of 200 metres away from the court complex.”
Sources said senior police officers, including Haryana DGP B S Sandhu, contacted Panchkula DCP Ashok Kumar and sought a report from him on the assembly of Dera followers in such large numbers.
Some of the Dera followers maintained that they would continue to assemble around the district courts complex daily until August 25. A Dera follower said, “Someone passed the information to Dera followers that Dera head, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, is coming to appear in the court today. So, the followers came here to take a look of him.” The followers, including aged people, women and children, arrived in Panchkula in their private vehicles and they stayed around the court complex till 4 pm.