A three-tier security ring has been thrown around Rohtak’s Sunaria district jail where CBI special judge Jagdeep Singh will on Monday pronounce the quantum of sentence on Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda, who has been convicted of rape. A state government helicopter will fly the judge to Rohtak on Monday morning. The sentencing is likely to take place around 2.45 pm.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who was pronounced guilty on Friday, will get a minimum of seven years in jail, and could be sentenced for up to life. Twenty-four of the 38 killed in the violence following the conviction had been identified until Sunday evening. Police have registered 52 FIRs over the last two days, and arrested 926 people.
Barring an assault on a TV crew in Sirsa, no violent incident was reported in Haryana on Sunday. Out of the 131 Sacha Sauda deras in the state, 103 had been sanitised. Police have booked Dera spokespersons Dr Aditya Insan and Dhiman Insan for sedition based on the statement of a journalist who reported that the two men had instigated Dera followers to violence in Panchkula.
“We are yet to arrest Aditya and Dhiman. Investigations are on,” Haryana Director General of Police B S Sandhu said. Police will carry out a thorough search of the Dera’s headquarters in Sirsa after the sentencing on Monday, Sandhu said.
All educational institutions, including government and private schools, colleges and other institutions, in Haryana will remain shut on Monday. Special security arrangements have been made in the districts of Rohtak, Sirsa, Panchkula, Kaithal, Ambala, Bhiwani, Jind, Hisar and Fatehabad. A total of 23 paramilitary companies have been deployed in and around Rohtak.
The national capital was on high alert ahead of the sentencing. Delhi Police has identified around 275 sensitive locations, and deployed over 20,000 police personnel, along with several platoons of central paramilitary forces, to deal with any untoward incident.
Delhi Police spokesperson Madhur Verma said, “We have made adequate security arrangements in all areas and have deployed additional reserve force of the Delhi Police, along with central paramilitary forces… All supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh are on our radar.”
Verma said prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC, which were imposed on all 11 districts of the capital, Noida and Ghaziabad on Friday, will continue until further orders. The Delhi Police Special Branch has informed Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik that there are 3,800 families of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s followers in Delhi, sources said.
In Haryana, Chief Secretary (Home) Ram Niwas ordered suspension of mobile Internet, data services and SMS across the state until 11.30 am on Tuesday. Internet lines on the premises of the Dera headquarters in Sirsa have been suspended until August 29.
“The decision has been taken considering the critical law and order situation and to maintain peace and communal harmony, and to prevent any loss of life or further damage to public and private property,” Ram Niwas said. “It has been reported by IG/CID that the situation is tense and violence may again continue for several days, especially on August 28, when the quantum of punishment will be announced.
“Besides, it has been reported by Deputy Commissioner, Sirsa, and Superintendent of Police, Sirsa, that the devotees may resort to breach of peace and tranquillity, and arson leading to damage to public and private properties… Since the environment is tense, rumours of different kinds may be spread through broadband and Internet lease lines on the premises of Dera Sacha Sauda”, Ram Niwas said.
The Army has cordoned off the Dera headquarters. The Sirsa district administration bussed followers out of the Dera on Sunday. A large number of followers had left the Dera headquarters by 5 pm, Sirsa Deputy Commissioner Prabhjot Singh said.
The DC has ordered the freezing of the Dera’s bank accounts. The state government has begun compiling details of the Dera’s assets, which it has to submit to Punjab and Haryana High Court on the next date of hearing.
Sunaria jail is located around 10 km outside Rohtak city. “From the security point of view, handling any sort of post-sentencing situation shall be better in Sunaria than in Ambala,” said a senior police officer, referring to the government’s initial plan of taking the Dera chief to Ambala jail, which is located in the middle of the city.
“To prevent any unauthorised entry into Rohtak tomorrow, the district police have barricaded all entry-exit points of the city. We have also made special arrangements for the media so that they can do their coverage in a proper and safe manner”, Navdeep Virk, Inspector General of Police, Rohtak range, said.
“There is no crowd build-up so far, neither in nor around Rohtak city and also not around Sunaria jail. We are alert round the clock. We shall ensure all security arrangements till the verdict is pronounced. Media reports that 12,000-15,000 dera followers have entered Rohtak are baseless. There has also been a complete clampdown on the dera’s centres (naam charcha ghars) in and around Rohtak,” Virk said. He added that the Army has been kept on standby, and shall be called in, if needed.
Rohtak Deputy Commissioner, Atul Kumar, said things were “peaceful” and the district administration was “fully prepared to deal with any sort of situation”. Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) prohibiting assembly of five or more persons, and carrying of firearms and other weapons, is in place in Rohtak.
Dr Hardeep Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehabad, said, “Peace is prevailing in the district and situation is normal. District administration of Fatehabad has imposed Section 144 till September 18.” He added that in Fatehabad, fuel pumps shall be shut at night.
The Kaithal district administration has appointed 36 duty magistrates at checkpoints across the district. Ambala Deputy Commissioner Sharandeep Kaur Brar said, “Section 144 was in force in the district since August 21, and shall remain in force till further orders.” Anshaj Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Bhiwani said, “District administration has sealed naam charcha ghars of Dera Sacha Sauda situated at village Baliyali, Bhiwani-Tosham Road, and Bawani Khera.”