Home Minister Rajnath Singh today called a high-level meeting with senior officers of his ministry and Punjab and Haryana , Delhi goverments to take stock of the situation in Panchkula where large scale violence was reported after the after a special CBI Court verdict indicting Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for the rape of two Dera Sacha Sauda.
Thirty people were killed and over 200 injured in the violence that were reported from various parts of Haryana, Punjab and Delhi.
Official sources said the situation is now under control and no fresh incidents of violence were reported after security forces were deployed at all points.
Immediately after the CBI court pronounced the conviction yesterday afternoon, Ram Rahim was airlifted to Rohtak and is being kept at the Police Training college rest house.
Yesterday, the Home Minister briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the situation prevailing and informed him that he had spoken to the Chief Ministers of Haryana and Punjab and reviewed the situation in the two states after followers of the Dera chief went on the rampage torching buses, railway stations and vehicles.
As the death toll rose to 32 by last night , Singh briefed the PM on the current riots in Panchkula, Sirsa and several other areas in Haryana .The CBI court held the Dera chief guilty of rape in the case filed in 2002 and the quantum of punishment will be pronounced on August 28.
Describing today’s violence as deeply distressing, the Prime Minister appealed to the people to maintain peace. “ Instances of violence are deeply distressing. I strongly condemn the violence & urge everyone to maintain peace,’’ the Prime Minister tweeted.
He has been in touch with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi. Prime Minister had asked the officials to work round the clock and restore normalcy as well as provide all possible assistance.
The Home Minister was forced to cut short his visit to Kyrgyzstan and return home. 'I cut short my visit to Kyrgyzstan, spoke to Haryana and Punjab Chief Ministers with whom I reviewed the situation,' he told reporters. Several Army columns have been rushed to Panchkula which has been the worst hit in the rioting. The followers of the Godman torched at least two railway stations, a power grid and petrol pumps in Haryana and Delhi, and targetted mediapersons, including television crew..
The controversial godman-turned-actor now faces minimum of 10 years in jail since the victim was a minor at the time of the sexual assault.
Authorities imposed curfew in many places in Punjab and Haryana to control the situation. Police sources said that 28 people succumbed to their injuries in PGIMER, Chandigarh, Panchkula general hospital and Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh. Two people were killed in Sirsa. However, the Haryana government remained silent on the casualty figure. No one from the government side came forward for confirmation of toll despite repeated attempts to contact them. Authorities have imposed curfew in violence-affected Panchkula, Sirsa, Kaithal, Kalayat and Cheeka in Haryana. Amid sporadic incidents of violence in some areas, the Punjab government has called out the Army to help and maintain peace and communal harmony in ten districts of the state over the next 24 hours, with preventive curfew being imposed in some sensitive areas in these districts.
Dera Sacha Sauda followers went on the rampage in Panchkula soon after the court convicted the sect head in rape case. They put on fire a five-star hotel, Income Tax office and petrol pump in Panchkula. Authorities here said Dera followers broke the barricades in Panchkula. The mob torched trains, railway stations, vehicles, OB vans and destroyed private property as well as attacked media personnel. Among the injured were also several media personnel. The situation could be brought under control after imposition of curfew and police fired tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse the crowd. Paramilitary forces and police had conducted a flag march in Panchkula.
As a spill over of the violence over conviction of Ram Rahim reported from various parts of Delhi,, prohibitory orders for indefinite period have been imposed across the capital and central paramilitary were being mobilised.
The National Capital remained on edge as lakhs of followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief went on the rampage torching vehicles and vanadalising government property. Army was finally in called to bring the situation under control.
''Section 144 has been imposed all the 13 districts of the capital excepting north and central Delhi districts and it will remain in force till further orders. Besides Central paramilitary forces were being mobilised at some places in areas bordering Haryana,’’ Delhi police spokesperson Madhur Verma told reporters last night.
''The situation in Delhi is under control and was being monitored closely. Strict action will be taken against anyone or group indulging in violence,’’ he said.
Earlier , three Delhi Transport Corporation buses were set on fire in Jyoti Nagar near Loni round about, Khayala and Jahangirpuri by miscreants, and two empty bogies of a train were torched at Anand Vihar railway station. There were no reports of any person being injured in this incident