The sentencing of Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in jail for rape was “not a thing to be either welcomed or rejected”, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said today as he appealed to the people to “accept” the court verdict.
He said that his government would continue to maintain a constant vigil to ensure that peace was maintained in the state and that curfew to remain in force as long as it was necessary.
The chief minister was talking to reporters after meeting Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore to apprise him of the law and order situation and the steps taken by his government to prevent any breakdown of law and order in the wake of the conviction of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief.
Replying to a question, the chief minister said the court verdict sentencing Ram Rahim to 20 years in jail was “not a thing to be either welcomed or rejected”.
It was a judicial decision which everyone had to “accept”, he said, adding that he was only interested in ensuring law and order in Punjab.
CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh pronounced two sentences of 10 years rigorous imprisonment in each of the two rapes that date back to 2002.
The chief minister said that in addition to the list of damaged properties, the state would file before the Punjab and Haryana High Court a claim for recovery of the expenditure incurred in the deployment of central armed forces from the Dera.
The central government would bill the state which, in turn, would submit it to the high court for necessary action, he said. The list of properties damaged in the wide-spread violence was being compiled by the district administrations, he added.
On the continuation of curfew, the chief minister said the state government would review the situation again on Tuesday before taking any decision on lifting the curfew imposed in some areas as a precautionary measure.
Curfew has already been lifted from five of the 10 states where the prohibitory orders were imposed.
Night curfew continued in five districts — Mansa, Bathinda, Faridkot, Barnala and Samana — and Patran sub-division of Patiala district, he said.
The Army has been deployed in Mansa and Muktsar districts as a preventive measure, he said.
Ban on mobile internet services in Punjab would be lifted tomorrow.
A decision on opening schools and colleges in the sensitive districts of the state had been left to the district authority concerned, said the chief minister, who held a high-level meeting with administrative and police officials before going to the Punjab Raj Bhawan to meet the Governor.
The chief minister said he had briefed the Governor on the law and order situation in the state and there was no report of any violence after Friday’s sporadic incidents.
In response to a question, Singh said he had never dubbed the Haryana government “a failure” but had only said that allowing so many people to gather in one place was a “mistake”.
Adequate precautions should have been taken to prevent such congregation of thousands of men, women and children ahead of the judgement on Friday, he said.
An official spokesperson later said the chief minister had submitted to the Governor a detailed report on the situation prevailing in Punjab.
The chief minister told the Governor that the state continued to be peaceful but his government was maintaining constant vigil and surveillance to ensure that no one is allowed to disturb the law and order. The chief minister informed the Governor that of the 32 people killed in police firing in Panchkula on August 25, 12 were reported to be from Punjab.
In his letter, the chief minister said there had been no firing, lathicharge or any major incident of arson and looting in the State.
However, 52 minor incidents of arson and looting were reported from different parts of the state, but most of the miscreants who attempted these incidents had been arrested.
There had been 60 preventive arrests in the state so far, he further said.
Singh said, “Subsequent to dispersal of crowd from Panchkula, Haryana, on August 25, the Mohali district administration ensured safe arrival of Dera people from Punjab to reach their homes without creating any problem on the roads.”
“We carried out major exercise in transporting people back to their villages in over 600 trucks and buses with police escorts,” he told the Governor.