Officials of the Special Investigation Team of Haryana Police have questioned jailed Dera sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s close aide Honeypreet. She is likely to be produced in a court here on Wednesday afternoon. Honeypreet, whose real name is Priyanka Taneja, remained a fugitive for 38 days after she was booked by the Haryana Police on charge of sedition. She was arrested on Tuesday from the Zirakpur-Patiala highway, about 15 km from Chandigarh.
Police sources said that Honeypreet was questioned by the SIT officials and women police officials for several hours after her arrest at the Chandimandir police station here. “She was evasive in her replies about her whereabouts and her role in inciting violence and providing funding to those behind the violence. We are interrogating her and will seek her police remand,” a police officer involved in the questioning told IANS.
Honeypreet complained of chest pain in the night and was taken to a hospital here where she was found to be fine by doctors. A woman accomplice, Sukhdeep Kaur, who was accompanying Honeypreet when she was arrested on Tuesday, was also arrested on charges of harbouring the fugitive.
The Toyota Innova, in which they were travelling, has also been seized by the police. The police had been on Honeypreet’s trail for nearly a month and raids were conducted in Nepal, Rajasthan, Bihar and Haryana.
Panchkula Police Commissioner A.S. Chawla, who comfirmed her arrest, said that investigation would be done on where all Honeypreet stayed in the past few days and who all helped in harbouring her. Refuting rumours that Honeypreet had surrendered and was not arrested, Chawla said: “It was not a surrender. It was an arrest.”
Assistant Commissioner of Police Mukesh Malhotra, who is heading the SIT constituted to probe the violence following the August 25 conviction of the jailed Dera chief, is questioning Honeypreet. “We need to investigate her role in the Panchkula violence on August 25 and hence we will seek her police remand,” he added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Honeypreet, in an interview to a news channel, claimed that she was innocent. Describing the allegations against her as “baseless”, she said that she was falsely implicated in the sedition case.
Earlier, the Delhi High Court on September 26 dismissed her anticipatory bail plea. “The plea is without merit. Honeypreet has been evading arrest in Haryana,” Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal had ruled on the plea of Honeypreet, who apprehended a threat to her life in Haryana.
A court in Panchkula had in September issued arrest warrants against top Dera functionaries – Honeypreet, Aditya Insan and Pawan Insan. All three were booked by the Haryana Police on charges of sedition, inciting violence and being involved in a conspiracy to help the Dera chief escape after his conviction by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on August 25 on two counts of rape of female disciples in 1999.
The Haryana Police had sounded an international alert against all three.
Honeypreet, in her mid-30s, has been the closest aide of Ram Rahim since 2009. Her ex-husband Vishwas Gupta had alleged illicit relations between the two. The woman – who has been claiming to be Ram Rahim’s “adopted daughter” – starred as the lead heroine in five films he directed, produced and acted in over a period of three years.
Ram Rahim has been sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of over Rs 30 lakh. His rape conviction led to violence in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana, leaving 38 people dead and another 264 injured. Isolated incidents of violence were also reported from Delhi and several places in Punjab.