Journalist murder case verdict: Panchkula turns a fortress as court to decide Dera chief’s fate todayhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/journalist-murder-case-verdict-panchkula-turns-a-fortress-as-court-to-decide-dera-chief-fate-today-5532948/

Journalist murder case verdict: Panchkula turns a fortress as court to decide Dera chief’s fate today

Journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati was shot at in October 2002 after his newspaper, ‘Poora Sach’, published an anonymous letter narrating how women were being sexually exploited by Gurmeet Ram Rahim at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.

Journalist murder case verdict: Panchkula turns a fortress as court to decide Dera chief fate today
Police outside the Dera Sacha Sauda premises in Sirsa on Thursday in view of the verdict in against chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. (Express photo: Jaipal Singh)

Ahead of journalist Ram Chander Chhatarpati murder case verdict against Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and three others on Friday, Panchkula DCP Kamal Deep Goel imposed Section 144 of CrPC throughout the district on Thursday. Carrying any kind of lethal weapon or object, which can be used as one, and gathering of five or more persons in all the adjoining sectors of the District Court Complex and Kalka-Zirakpur highway are barred till January 12.

The court of special CBI judge, Jagdeep Singh, has already accepted the application of Haryana police to produce Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, lodged at District Jail Rohtak, through video conferencing. Three other accused – Krishan Lal, Kuldeep Singh and Nirmal Singh will appear in the court personally.

The adjoining sectors of the district court complex-1 and Kalka-Zirakpur highway include sectors, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 20, 21, 23 and 24, Devi Nagar and Kharak Mangoli villages, besides old Panchkula. The district court complex, Sector 1, has also been declared no-vehicle zone. DCP Goel said around 550 police personnel were deployed for maintaining law and order situation in the urban areas of Panchkula and a similar number deputed in the other parts of the district. “The orders under Section 144 of CrPC will not imply on functions, including religious processions and social gatherings, for which permissions have already been granted. Police personnel have already been deployed around Naam Charcha Ghar in Sector 23. Checkpoints have been made at all the entry and exit points of Panchkula,” said Goel.

Sources said 55 police personnel have been deputed in plain clothes at all sensitive points, including the district court complex, Sector 23, and residential areas, which house Dera followers. Elaborate security arrangements have also been made in Sirsa (headquarters of Dera) and Rohtak districts with several companies of the state armed police, anti-riot police and commando force being deployed to deal with any law and order situation.

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“Security has been enhanced in Haryana,” said Haryana ADGP (Law and Order) Muhammad Akil. Directions have been issued to police in all the districts not to allow any unnecessary gathering and maintain extra vigil, said police official adding that police nakas have also been laid at several places.

In Punjab where there are sizeable numbers of Dera followers, elaborate security arrangements have been made in Bathinda and Ferozepur ranges. “We have made elaborate security arrangements in Bathinda range,” said Punjab Inspector General (Bathinda Range) M F Farooqui told PTI.

Around 2,000 security personnel have been deployed in Bathinda range, he added. Police have been keeping a close watch in sensitive areas like Faridkot, Moga, Baghapurana, Jaitu, Kotkapura, police said. “10 companies of Punjab police have been deployed in Ferozepur range,” said Punjab IG M S Chhina.

Chhatrapati was shot at in October 2002 after his newspaper, ‘Poora Sach’, published an anonymous letter narrating how women were being sexually exploited by Gurmeet Ram Rahim at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.

The journalist later succumbed to injuries and a case was registered in 2003. The case was handed over to the CBI in 2006. On August 25, 2017, Panchkula witnessed massive violence after the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim in rape cases of two sadhvis inside the Dera premises in Sirsa. As many as 30 people were killed in Panchkula and six others in the subsequent violence in Sirsa district.