Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar summoned an emergency meeting Monday of top officials of the state after Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, convicted in a 2002 rape case, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, a senior official said. Khattar also appealed to the people, especially Dera followers, to maintain peace, the official added.
“The chief minister summoned an emergency meet of the chief secretary, home secretary, Haryana DGP and other senior officials to take stock of the situation after the CBI court awarded the jail term to the Dera chief,” the official said. The conviction on Friday of the Dera head by a CBI court in Panchkula, Haryana, triggered violent protests by Dera followers. At least 38 people were killed and 260 injured in Haryana, mostly in Panchkula.
To prevent any further trouble, CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh Monday pronounced the sentence in a makeshift court in Sunaria jail, where Ram Rahim, 50, had been lodged since his conviction. CM Khattar said all possible arrangements had been taken to deal with “any situation that may arise” after the sentencing.
He directed the administration to deal strictly under the law with anyone found stirring up trouble or indulging in violence or arson. Neighbouring Punjab has also been put on high alert, with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh closely monitoring the situation, officials said.
The Punjab CM will meet Punjab Governor and UT Chandigarh Administrator V P Singh Badnore later today to brief him about the situation in the state. Punjab has been maintaining a vigil in sensitive districts falling in the Malwa region, including Bathinda, Sangrur, Moga and Patiala, where there is a sizable presence of Dera followers.
Schools and colleges stayed shut across Haryana and parts of Punjab today. Mobile Internet services will remain suspended in the two states till Tuesday. Sensitive areas such as Sirsa, Fatehabad, Ambala, Kaithal, Patiala, Bathinda, Moga, Ferozepur and Malout in Haryana and Punjab are on high alert, the officials said.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court came down heavily on the Khattar government after Friday’s large-scale violence. Khattar was also attacked by the opposition, which accused him of failing to handle the situation. Authorities in Haryana said they were braced up for any eventuality and would prevent a re-run of the events that broke out in Panchkula on Friday.