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Khattar Government Desperate to Avoid Friday's Rerun, Turns Rohtak Into a Fortress Ahead of Gurmeet Ram Rahim's Sentencing

The Khattar government in Haryana, knows that though it has survived Friday’s mayhem, it might not live to see another day if it fails to control the law and order situation after Monday’s sentencing of Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

Subhajit Sengupta | CNN-News18SubhajitSG

Updated:August 28, 2017, 10:20 AM IST
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Khattar Government Desperate to Avoid Friday's Rerun, Turns Rohtak Into a Fortress Ahead of Gurmeet Ram Rahim's Sentencing
Security arrangements in Sirsa ahead of the sentencing on Monday morning. (TV grab)
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Panchkula: Going on the defensive, Haryana government has taken a line that it was important for them to get Gurmeet Ram Rahim to the court and hence couldn't antagonise the Dera Sacha Sauda command structure.

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The argument is that had they used force to remove the 'premis' from the court area, their 'Baba' could have given it a miss. However, what happened later was a full scale arson on live television.

Home Secretary Ram Nivas told News18, “Thirty fresh companies of central paramilitary forces have been pressed into service in Rohtak ahead of the verdict”. This is over and above the security forces that were already present.

Twenty-eight Army columns have also been pressed into service, however, the bulk of Armymen are in Sirsa and Panchkula. The Haryana Police have been given a free hand to use force wherever needed.

Dera supporters, whom the Haryana government refused to evacuate, held Panchkula to ransom for three hours on Friday. Thousands of Dera Sacha Sauda followers started running amok, burning vehicles, attacking mediapersons, which ultimately led to the death of 31 persons on Friday. But the administration claims they have learnt a lesson and will ensure that the same is not repeated in Rohtak after Monday’s sentencing.

Senior officers are saying they wanted to avoid a Rampal ashram-like situation, when the self-styled godman decided to give the court a miss and there were full-fledged clashes between his followers and the police, even before they could execute the non-bailable warrant and take him to court.

However, this time around, the Dera Sacha Sauda chief is in safe custody and the administration can now fully focus on ensuring Monday’s sentencing is peaceful.

While Sirsa will remain under curfew even on Tuesday, Section 144 will be imposed in Rohtak. Special police check posts have been set up on all the roads leading to Rohtak and the highway leading to the Sunariya Jail has been virtually sealed. No one will be allowed to go near the court complex.

There is a scare that the roughly 20,000 Dera followers have gathered or are present in Rohtak and might try to congregate at one place. Keeping that in mind, all Dera offices have been sealed and check posts are being set up at almost every major traffic intersection.

Rohtak was one of the worst hit districts in last year's Jat violence where as per the Prakash Singh committee report as many as 1,196 shops were set ablaze, 371 vehicles torched, 30 educational institutions burnt, 75 houses set on fire, 53 hotels or banquet halls destroyed and 23 petrol pumps vandalised.

A repeat of that is surely something that the already troubled Khattar government will not want, especially since the Jat community which dominates the demography in Rohtak, isn’t too happy with the BJP government in Haryana.

So far, the state has taken over 300 Dera followers and leaders into preventive custody. This is over and above the 800 odd arrests which have been made in the wake of Friday's violence.

The Khattar government knows that though it has survived Friday’s mayhem, it might not live to see another day if it fails to control the law and order situation after Monday’s sentencing.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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