Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar today said the Punjab and Haryana High Court was monitoring the Dera Sacha Sauda issue and the administration will enter the sect’s headquarters at Sirsa after the court appoints a judicial magistrate for the purpose. To a question why the administration was hesitating to entering the sect’s headquarters, he said in Karnal, “The Punjab and Haryana High Court is monitoring the entire (Dera) issue. We have sought appointment of a judicial magistrate and will also follow all the directions of the court.”
Khattar said the forces cannot enter on their own. “They cannot go on their own. The court is monitoring the entire thing… We do not want that any finger is pointed at us tomorrow that how we allowed them (the forces to go inside the sect’s headquarters),” the chief minister said. Khattar said the sprawling campus of the Dera at Sirsa, spread over 800 acres, would be searched only after a judicial magistrate is appointed for the purpose.
The High Court had earlier taken up a PIL filed by Ravinder Dhull, a Panchkula resident, who had raised concerns over the law and order situation and stated that over 1.5 lakh people had reportedly entered the district earlier despite prohibitory orders. Violence broke out there after Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s conviction in rape cases, leaving at least 35 people dead. Six others died in incidents of violence in Sirsa.
Ram Rahim was later sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Haryana government had come under attack for allowing a huge build up of Dera Sacha Sauda followers in Panchkula. Earlier, Khattar had said the violence could have turned much worse had the government not been alert. He said the state government had taken steps after due consideration in compliance with the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“Had the government had not been alert, the situation could have been much worse,” he said, adding, “Our priority was to produce dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the court to avoid a situation like the one during the arrest of Rampal in Barwala (in 2014).” On August 30, Khattar, had ruled out his resignation after meeting BJP chief Amit Shah in Delhi, saying his government had acted with “restraint” in handling the situation.
Khattar also told reporters that he would contest the next election from Karnal as the people of the constituency have accorded him a lot of respect. At the same time, he said, “However, I will accept whatever the party decides in this regard.” Khattar (63) is a first-time legislator from Karnal. He became the chief minister when BJP came to power for the first time on its own in Haryana in October 2014.
He said the Haryana government would also organise a programme on the completion of three years of its tenure. “The programme would be organised on a grand scale between October 26 and November 1.The venue would be decided later by the committee concerned,” he said.