Ram Rahim's sentencing today, multi-layered security in place
Sirsa: Ahead of self-styled guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's sentencing in a rape case on Monday, about 30,000 of his followers from different states are believed to still be camping inside the 1000-acre headquarters of his Dera Sacha Sauda sect in Haryana's Sirsa, about 250 km from Chandigarh. They have refused to leave despite several requests by the administration. The riot police and the Army have woven a security ring around the campus and say they are communicating with those inside.
An uneasy calm prevailed in Haryana and Punjab on Sunday where curfew was relaxed at some places that were hit by violence in the aftermath of the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case.
There was no report of any violence in Haryana since Saturday even as security forces remained on alert.
Relaxation in curfew was being given at various places where it had been clamped earlier, officials said.
In Sirsa, the district administration on Sunday morning relaxed the curfew for five hours in and around Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters here, after restrictions were imposed on August 24.
Rail service from Delhi to Katra via Ambala has been resumed.
Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, state DGP BS Sandhu said that maintaining law and order will be the top priority for the Haryana police on Monday.
"To ensure there is no repeat of the violence that erupted in Panchkula on Friday, all routes to the Sunaria jail in Rohtak, where the self-styled godman has been lodged, have been sealed," Sandhu said.
The DGP said that the death toll in the violence that broke out in Panchkula and Sirsa after the conviction of the Dera chief on Friday has risen to 38.
With tension building up ahead of the sentencing of Dera chief, the Haryana and Punjab governments on Sunday suspended mobile internet services till August 29.
Sedition and attempt to murder charges have been slapped against seven persons, including five Haryana police personnel, who were part of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief's security paraphernalia when he had arrived at Panchkula to appear in a CBI court on August 25.
Punjab was also peaceful and no incidents were reported from anywhere, an official spokesperson said.
A multi-layered security cordon has been thrown around the Rohtak district jail where the CBI special court judge will be flown to pronounce the quantum of sentence on Monday.
Ahead of the pronouncement of the sentence, police have left nothing to chance and have taken important functionaries of the sect, who could gather followers, into preventive custody. Police and paramilitary forces were maintaining a strict vigil and various 'nakas' have been set up in entire Rohtak.
At many sensitive places in Punjab too, security forces conducted flag marches and kept a tight vigil in sensitive areas.
Army deployment in Haryana continued two days after violence erupted. On Sunday, the number of Army columns deployed in Sirsa went up to 12, from eight deployed on Saturday, a senior Army official said.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Saturday castigated the Haryana government over the deadly violence that erupted in the state, saying it had "surrendered" before the followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda head for "political considerations".
In a big crackdown, the Haryana government had on Saturday sealed over 30 congregation centres of the Dera Sacha Sauda across the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday slammed the mayhem created by followers of self- styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim, saying violence in the name of faith won't be tolerated and asserted that the guilty would not be spared.
In view of the prevailing tense situation, all schools, colleges and other educational institutions will remain closed on Monday, a senior official said. More reports inside