The Malwa region of Punjab witnessed violence and chaos as the dera followers (premis) of Dera Sacha Sauda of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh went on rampage after he was convicted by CBI court in Panchkula on Friday for rape. However, in Ludhiana district no violence was reported till the filing of this report but the situation remained tense. After the reports of violence poured in from other districts, the shopkeepers started closing their shops in Chaura Bazaar, Sarabha Nagar, Ghumar Mandi, Dugri and other areas. Also, the rumors added to the tension even as police confirmed that no violence has been reported in the district.
In Barnala district, a telephone exchange at village Channawal was vandalized and two men tried to put it on fire. Two sewa kendras of the government were also vandalized at village Vajid Ke and Handiaya. The glass windows of sewa kendras were shattered as dera followers threw stones at them. Barnala SSP Harjeet Singh said, “We are in process of registering FIRs in each incident that is being reported. One miscreant in case of village Channanwal has been recognized and will be arrested soon.” Read | Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh held guilty in rape case; 28 killed in violence in Panchkula, 1000 detained
Meanwhile, a sewa kendra was also targeted in village Rati Rori of Faridkot district. Also, a dera follower from village Sadhwala of Faridkot died under mysterious circumstances at Panchkula Thursday late. Her body reached Faridkot on Friday but the family refused to cremation in ‘condolence’ with the conviction of their dera head. They said that cremation will be held only after other ‘premis’ from their village are back to Faridkot. The woman Angrez Kaur, 60, was camping in Panchkula since two days and family claimed she was ‘bitten by a snake’.
Faridkot SSP Nanak Singh said that curfew has been imposed in Faridkot seeing the situation. The curfew was imposed in Faridkot around 6 pm and will stay till 9 am on Saturday morning. The administration appealed to all the residents to reach their homes safely and stay indoors till the next instructions of the government. “The family of the woman has refused cremation. Body has been kept in mortuary. Curfew has been imposed as precautionary measure,” he said.
Dera premis started gathering at Faridkot Naam charcha ghar since Friday morning but heavy force was deployed there. Later, police told them to disperse and some were also told to shift to their dera prayer hall at Kotakapura.
In Moga, two miscreants tried to put railway tracks on fire at village Dagru. Using petrol bombs, they also tried to vandalize railway station property but situation was controlled. However, they managed to abscond. Moga administration also announced that curfew will be imposed in the district from 9 pm onwards till next instructions. “They tried to throw a petrol bomb at railway tracks from a moving car but it did not explode and fizzled out. They sped away in the car,” said Moga SSP Raj Jit Singh Hundal.
“As a precautionary measure, curfew will be imposed in Moga after 9 pm till next orders of the deputy commissioner,” added Hundal.
In Ludhiana district, city bus service of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation remained suspended on Friday. Also, as the internet services were suspended, the radio taxi services including Ola and Uber were affected causing heavy inconvenience to the common people.
At the Naam Charcha Ghars of the dera in village Gahaur of Jagraon and Jaghera of Khanna, police did not allow premis to assemble. Most of them started moving to Salabatpura, the dera headquarters for Punjab. SSP (Khanna) Navjot Singh Mahal and SSP (Jagraon Surjit Singh said that heavy force was deployed outside Naam Charcha Ghars of the dera and followers were not allowed to assemble.
Ludhiana city police commissioner RN Dhoke said that apart from police force led by 30 gazetted officers, the city is also being guarded by paramilitary forces, mounted forces and anti-riot police. “We have not got report of any violence or arson in Ludhiana city as of now. All the thirty officers have been spread throughout the city with a team of SHOs under them. Extra forces have been deployed near government buildings like sewa kendras, railway station, bus stand etc as they are being targeted in other districts.”
Asked if police got the shops shut in city’s prime markets, Dhoke denying it said, “We did not ask any shopkeeper to shut the shops. Patrolling has been increased and flag marches being held in every area which are sensitive. Probably, hearing news of violence in other districts, people themselves closed the shops as precautionary measure.”
Rumors also added to the tension and chaos in Ludhiana. “Though internet is off but still rumors are being spread that there is arson in Dugri area and Clock tower area of Ludhiana but it is untrue. We have got it checked from our teams. We request residents not to spread rumors, addded Dhoke.