Maintaining law & order will be the top priority for the Haryana police on Monday, when Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's sentence is pronounced, state DGP B S Sandhu said on Sunday, even as the toll in Friday’s violence rose to 38. Under fire over the loss of lives in the violence, Sandhu told media persons in Chandigarh that the arrangements made for Monday were “foolproof”.
To ensure there was no repeat of the violence that erupted in Panchkula last week when thousands of Dera followers swarmed near the CBI court that convicted Singh in a rape case. All routes to the Sunaria jail in Rohtak, where the self-styled godman has been lodged, have been sealed, he said.
The police have also registered a sedition case against two key Dera functionaries on the basis of a media report, of which the High Court had also taken cognisance of, Sandhu said.
Addressing a press conference here, DGP Sandhu said that in Haryana, only Sirsa, where the sect is headquartered, was now under curfew.
"The top priority now is to ensure that law and order are maintained when the sentencing of convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief takes place in Rohtak tomorrow," he said.
The sentencing is expected to take place tomorrow afternoon.
The DGP added that the death toll in the violence that broke out in Panchkula and Sirsa after the conviction of the Dera chief on Friday had risen to 38.
While 32 persons lost their lives in the violence on Friday at Panchkula, six others died at Sirsa, where curfew was still on, he said.
All the deceased, who belong to Sirsa, have been identified, Sandhu said. Of those who died in Panchkula, 24 have been identified and the post-mortem conducted, he said.
Out of 20 bodies from Panchkula that were handed over to the kin, nine were from Punjab, ten from Haryana and one from Rajasthan, he said.
As many as 263 persons were injured in the violence, the DGP said.
"During the past 24 hours in Haryana, no untoward incident has been reported from anywhere barring one in Sirsa, where a media person was attacked," he said.
Dera centres have been checked as per High Court orders and they have been sanitised, he said. Rail services have resumed on the Delhi-Katra route, but restrictions remain on Sirsa and Hisar routes, the DGP said.
As a precautionary measure, schools will remain shut, he said.
The Dera chief is now lodged in the Sunaria jail in Rohtak, where the special CBI court judge will be flown from here for the pronouncement of the sentence. On Friday, the court had convicted the Dera chief in a rape case.
In Rohtak, foolproof security arrangements have been made and all routes leading to the jail have been sealed, DGP Sandhu said.
"Besides Haryana police and paramilitary forces, the Army will remain on standby in Rohtak tomorrow. We have made foolproof security arrangements," he said.
The Rohtak administration has designated a place from where media persons can provide coverage when the sentence will be pronounced, he said.
On Friday, several vehicles belonging to media organisations including OB vans were damaged by Dera supporters in Panchkula.
Haryana's ADGP (law and order) and IG, CID, took stock of the situation in Rohtak today. Sandhu sought to assure media persons that police will give them full protection to enable them to discharge their duties in a free and fair manner but urged them to take precaution when they go in sensitive areas.
As far as registration of cases related to the violence on Friday is concerned, the DGP said that 52 cases had been registered in which 926 people have been arrested by the Haryana police.
During the violence on Friday, 76 vehicles were burnt, including 53 in Panchkula, and the rest in Sirsa, he said.
Giving details of the security arrangements in Rohtak, ADGP Mohd Akil said "we are expecting that the court will take up the matter at around 2:30 p.m. However, the timing can vary."
"We are prepared and are hoping that tomorrow's events related to sentencing and afterwards will pass off smoothly.
However, if even after these foolproof arrangements, anti- social elements or any criminal tries to create trouble, then we have given orders that strict action is taken as per the demands of the situation," he said.