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Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today lashed out at his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar for allegedly blaming Punjab for the violence that followed the conviction of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in rape cases last month.
Dubbing Khattar's charges against the Punjab government as "ludicrous", he said the Haryana chief minister was trying "desperately to cover up his own government's failure in preventing the carnage".
"Khattar is despair was evident from the fact that even after dismissing five of their own police personnel over the alleged conspiracy to whisk Ram Rahim away post the verdict, he was now trying to fix responsibility for the entire affair on the Punjab Police," Singh said, adding nothing could be more "ridiculous" than this.
The conviction of the Dera head in two 2002 rape cases had triggered arson and violence in Haryana that claimed 38 lives and injured over 250 people. While 32 people had died in Panchkula, six people were killed at Sirsa, where the sect headquarters is located.
Neighbouring Punjab also witnessed some incidents of violence in Malwa region after a special CBI court on August 28 sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment for raping his two womon followers.
The Punjab chief minister also sought to know why did the Khattar government dismiss five Haryana policemen if they were not guilty.
Khattar in an interview to a news channel had said that eight personnel of the Punjab Police were part of the Dera chief's security, while indicting that they could be the part of "conspiracy" to free him.
"Under whose authority, they (the Punjab policemen) were sent, we do not know about it. Five policemen from Haryana in his security were carrying one weapon each while all these eight Punjab Police personnel had two weapons each. We arrested five of our policemen, suspended and then dismissed them. We also arrested these eight Punjab policemen," Khattar had said.
Singh also lashed out at Khattar for blaming Punjab over the accumulation of lakhs of Dera followers in Panchkula ahead of the verdict against Ram Rahim.
The death count and the number of people injured in the violence that erupted in Panchkula after the verdict, clearly shows that the bulk of the followers gathered there were from Haryana, he pointed out, asking how could the Punjab government be expected to control entry into Haryana.
"Haryana alone was responsible for maintaining law and order in Panchkula and failed to prevent aggregation of people in the area despite intelligence reports warning of adverse fallout of the court judgement," Singh noted, assailing Khattar's "attempt to divert public attention" from his government's "catastrophic failure" in the matter.
"Khattar seems to have either forgotten or has conveniently chosen to ignore the fact that not only did Punjab witness only a few sporadic and minor incidents but reported no loss of life in the fallout of the Panchkula bloodshed," the chief minister said in a statement here.
He said if the majority of the followers gathered in the town had been from Punjab, the situation in his state would have been much worse.
"Even the judiciary has blamed the Haryana government for allowing the situation to escalate out of control," he said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)