An illegal explosives factory and firecrackers were found on the second day of a massive sanitisation exercise inside the dera of rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
Hordes of police, paramilitary and civil administration personnel were involved in the mammoth search operation which started yesterday on the direction of Punjab
and Haryana High Court.
"A fire cracker factory has been found inside the Dera premises and it is an illegal factory," said state Information and Public Relations Department Deputy Director, Satish Mehra, who has been authorised by the administration to speak to the media.
Mehra further said that a set of walkie-talkies has also been found inside the room of convicted Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Besides that, "Some minor children have been rescued, one is from Uttar Pradesh and the other is from Kaithal. They have been handed over to the district child protection officer," Mehra said.
He also said that unlabelled medicines have been found on the premises and handed over to the district administration.
Mehra confirmed that search operations would continue till the evening and action would be initiated thereafter.
Dera headquarters search operations day 1
An unregistered luxury car and some banned currency notes were yesterday seized from the dera of Singh during the sanitisation exercise which also involved forensic examination of his so-called cave where he allegedly used to sexually exploit women.
Besides, some rooms were also sealed and hard disk drives and unlabelled medicines recovered during the 12-hour day long exercise.
The entire sanitisation process is being videographed and overseen by retired District and Sessions Judge, A K S Pawar, who was appointed as Court Commissioner by the Punjab
and Haryana High Court on Tuesday.
Heavy security has been deployed in Sirsa and surrounding areas to allow the search operations at the Dera headquarters to go on smoothly.
Forty one companies of paramilitary forces, four Indian Army columns and Haryana Police contingents from four to five districts are manning 16 checkpoints. A SWAT team and one dog squad has also been deployed.
A bomb squad will also accompany the officials and security personnel inside the headquarters in Sirsa.
Ten companies of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), along with the Haryana Police, have been deployed at the Shah Satnaam Chowk.
Curfew remains in force on the road leading inside the dera headquarters. No unauthorised person was being allowed to go inside the dera premises. However, life remained normal in Sirsa city.
A large number of vehicles including police buses and paramilitary vehicles, Quick Reaction Team vehicles, bomb disposal squad and anti-sabotage team vehicles, carrying cops and paramilitary personnel made their way inside the dera premises this morning, officials said.
Vehicles of the district administration carrying officials drawn from various government departments also made their way inside the Dera premises.
Besides, some fire tenders, heavy earth moving machines and tractors have also been pressed into service for the sanitisation exercise.
Sixteen 'nakas' have been set up near the dera and forty-one companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in Sirsa district.
A number of dera followers who had parted ways with the sect head, have reportedly told the media earlier that except for the dera chief and his close aides, nobody was allowed to enter the 'Gufa' or private residence.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and his den
The Dera is spread over two campuses, 600 acres and over 100 acres respectively, about eight km from Sirsa and 260 km from Chandigarh.
It houses a stadium, a hospital, educational institutions, luxury resort, bungalows and markets. Hundreds of people and sect followers permanently live and work in the mini-township.
The premises, where the sect chief lived, known as the "gufa" (cave), is itself spread over an area of nearly 100 acres. It is said to have ultra-luxury facilities.
The campus has palatial bungalows of his other family members, none of whom are in the premises since August 25, when the sect chief was convicted of rape and sent to jail.
Ram Rahim was convicted in the 1999 rape cases by a CBI special court in Panchkula on August 25.
He was later sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment and is lodged in the District Jail at Sunaria near Rohtak.
His conviction led to violence in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana, leaving 38 people dead and 264 injured. Isolated incidents of violence were also reported from Delhi and several other places in Punjab.