Violence in Punjab, Haryana after fresh case against Dera chief
Chandigarh, Feb 27: Violence erupted in different parts of Punjab and Haryana Saturday evening as scores of supporters of the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect protested against the registration of another murder case against their spiritual leader, Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh.
No human casualties were reported so far in the violence.
Dera followers, known as ‘Premis’, went on rampage and burnt nearly two dozen buses across Punjab and Haryana.
Four coaches of the Sutlej Express train were set on fire by the protestors in Moga district of Punjab.
At least eight buses were torched in Moga. The protestors also burnt buses and destroyed public properties at various places in Haryana like Sirsa, Hisar, Kaithal and Fatehabad towns, police said.
In Punjab, reports of violence came from Bathinda, Mansa, Barnala and Ferozepur towns.
Both states have been put on high alert and police reinforcements were rushed to the affected spots to control the situation. The help of central paramilitary forces was also being sought, senior police officials in both states said.
The Haryana police recalled all its personnel who were on leave for the extended weekend holiday for Holi festival.
The sect chief was booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier this week for the murder of former Dera manager Faqir Chand in 1991. Chand’s body was never found and CBI had conducted an inquiry into this matter on court orders.
Besides the sect chief, CBI had booked four other members of Dera for murder, destroying evidence and for hatching criminal conspiracy.
The sect chief is already facing three cases, two of murder conspiracy and one of rape of a female follower in a CBI special court in Ambala town of Haryana.
Dera Sacha Sauda sect, which has a big following all over the country, is headquartered at Sirsa town in Haryana, around 275 kilometres from here.
Suspected Dera followers put three buses on fire at Sirsa town. Violence is also reported from Haryana towns of Uchana and Kaithal. The rioters also put a bus stand at Fatehabad on fire.
The rioters pelted stones on people and public property in Moga town and torched a bogey of a train at the railway station. They set more than four buses on fire after breaking their window panes. These buses were parked at bus stand. They also attempted to burn a train at Ludhiana.
Washing its hands off from any role by its followers in the violence Saturday, Dera officials said that they had no idea who was behind the violence across Punjab and Haryana.
“We strongly condemned this violence and appeal everyone to maintain peace and harmony in the region. No Dera follower is behind this arson and rioting. Once the police will conduct its investigation, things will become clear before everyone that who is responsible behind this chaos,” sect spokesman Aditya Insaan told IANS.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the home minister said that no one would be allowed to spread lawlessness in the state.
Badal directed law enforcing agencies in the state to deal firmly with anyone trying to take law into his own hands and to ensure that no one was allowed to disturb the hard-earned atmosphere of peace and communal harmony in the state.
“Anyone trying to indulge in acts of lawlessness or violence or trying to play up communal passions will have to face the consequences under the strictest provisions of the law,” Badal said.
The Haryana government Saturday evening issued stern instructions to all district police chiefs to deal with violent protestors with a firm hand.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 27 Feb 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 27 Feb 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 28 Feb 2010 00:00:00 IST
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