A sessions Court here on Saturday discharged at least 40 accused including Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s close aide Priyanka Taneja alias Honey Preet of the offence of waging war against the government as Haryana Police failed to prove its allegation that the rioting caused by Dera followers after Ram Rahim’s conviction in the rape case in 2017 was also aimed at overthrowing the Government of India and Haryana government.
“…The primary object was to gather the devotees in large numbers for favorable decision for Baba and in case the decision was given against Baba, it was allegedly planned to carry out rioting, arson and to attack the police to get the Baba freed from police custody. The object was thus confined to the interest of the Dera followers/devotees and not common to the whole community and the object sought to be attained was not of a great public nature,” said Additional Sessions Judge Sanjay Sandhir in the verdict.
A massive violence was caused by Dera followers in Panchkula and other cities of Haryana after a CBI Court pronounced the Dera Chief as guilty of two rapes on August 25 in 2017. The case in which Honey Preet and 39 others are accused is the main FIR relating to the charge of conspiracy behind the violence and was registered following a Punjab and Haryana High Court order on the basis of an eyewitness account of some journalists. With the court declining to charge the accused under Sections 121 and 121-A (Waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India), the case will now be tried by the Chief Judicial Magistrate Panchkula as offences of less serious nature are involved.
“The total number of accused in the case are 45. Five are absconding. Under the remaining charges, an accused can face a maximum imprisonment of three years like under Section 153 (assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot etc.) of the IPC. Other offences under which the accused stand charged carry lesser sentences,” advocate Suresh Kumar Rohilla, who represents three accused in the case, told The Indian Express.
The accused will now face trial only under Sections 145, 146, 150, 151, 152, 153 and 120B of the IPC. The Police is yet to trace one of the prime accused in the case – Aditya Insan. Out of the 40 facing trial, 34 have already been granted bail by courts in recent past. Most of the accused in the case are key functionaries of the Dera.
Besides alleging that the rioting was aimed at overthrowing the central and state government, Haryana Police before the Sessions Court had argued that the Dera followers were instructed to come with stones, dandas, petrol, diesel etc and told that by showing a strength, a pressure would be built up on Government of India and Haryana Government for a decision in favour of Dera Chief.
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