Miscreants who instigated violence and arson in Sirsa following the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh will be identified and brought to book, a senior Haryana government official said on Monday. He also asserted that Sirsa did not witness any untoward incident on Monday after the quantum of sentence in two rape cases against the self-styled godman was pronounced. Senior IAS officer V Umashankar along with IG Sirsa Amitabh Singh Dhillon while addressing media in Sirsa also said that the district authorities had ordered the attachment of the Sirsa-based Dera’s accounts.
Compensation to those affected in the violence earlier could be given from these accounts, Umashankar said.
“The next step, now, will be to identify the instigators of violence and action will be taken against them,” he said.
We will also ensure there is no instigation in future and peace and calm prevail, he added.
If some illegal weapons were used, then also the culprits will be identified and action taken, he said.
Umashankar also said that a search of the Dera might be carried out to identify the “illegal” acts.
Speaking about the situation after the quantum of sentence was announced, Umashankar said there was no report of any untoward incident today and hoped that peace will be maintained.
To a query about firearms, he said, “there were some weapons which were registered in the name of the Dera and there were some weapons in the name of the people. We have to draw a distinction between the two and we are finalising this and accordingly, will take the next step.”
Umashankar said that the deputy commissioner of Sirsa had ordered the attachment of the accounts of Dera Sacha Sauda and compensation to the people affected by violence during the episode may be given from these as per court orders.
“As far as property and compensation is concerned, Deputy Commissioner ordered the attachment of accounts of the Dera yesterday as a majority of their accounts are here only. Attachment orders have been issued and we expect that compensation would be possible from these frozen accounts,” he said.
A senior IAS officer, Umashankar is posted as the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG), but has been assigned special duty to assist the Sirsa administration, which is on a high alert keeping in view the Dera chief’s conviction.
Asked how many people were still inside the Dera in Sirsa, I G Dhillon said, “still the number is in thousands, but it has come down. I would not like to share the exact figure”.
However, Umashankar clarified that there was a new Dera and old Dera (campus) and there were two colonies nearby.
“Most of the people living in these colonies are Dera supporters. If we include the permanent residents of these colonies as Dera supporters, then figure will cross 5,000,” he said.
If we separate residents and those who come regularly, it will not be more than a thousand, he added.
Asked if there was a plan to go inside Dera to sanitise like many Dera centres had already been sealed, Umashankar said, “there are some issues of faith, in which we don’t have to intervene too much as part of the state. Our interference comes when that area or location is used for instigation of some crime is used, then we have to intervene.”
“Our next steps will be from the law and order and prevention of crime point of view. Steps are to be taken and in this regard whatever steps need to be taken will be taken. Some part of the operational strategies which we have to work out, this is not the forum to discuss,” he said.
Asked about an alleged torching of a car in Sirsa after the quantum was announced, Dhillon said that the SHO went to the spot and the car owner said that the horn of his vehicle blared for a long time…after which it caught fire.
“There were also three boys at the spot who left later. I have summoned forensic experts to go into the cause of fire,” he said.
To a query, Umashankar said that “for some days, our communication with the Dera management broke down as it was not willing to speak to us after August 25. But after Panchkula and Sirsa incidents, contact has been established again. If you see, yesterday, Dera followers came out which was part of coordination”.
He said that a meeting of the joint command of army, police and district administration, will be taken this evening to decide on giving relaxation in curfew in Sirsa.
Dhillon said that the priority of the security personnel on August 25 was that Dera head should attend the court at all costs.
Umashankar said, that leading up to the day of the judgment in the case at Panchkula on August 25, the authorities had three major tactical objectives, the first of which was to ensure prevention of any violent mob from coming towards Sirsa city.
We were conscious that if such a mob comes towards the city and indulges in violence and arson, then it would have been very difficult to control them and we had accordingly deployed our forces and formulated our strategy, he said.
The second objective was that if the violence takes place, we have to contain it in a specific area and prevent it from spreading. Third objective was to exercise maximum restraint, which was not entirely possible in this kind of situation, but still we had to keep it and not allow it to escalate, he said.
I am happy to tell you that with alertness of our forces, with the support of Army, personal leadership of Sirsa DC and SP, incidents of arson and looting were prevented, he said.
In Sirsa, six people had died in incident related to violence which broke out after the conviction of Ram Rahim on Friday.