Chandigarh: Haryana DGP BS Sandhu is likely to be shunted out for mismanaging the law and order situation in Panchkula in the aftermath of the verdict against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. IPS officer SS Deswal is the frontrunner to be the new top cop.
If the move goes through, the replacement would be the fifth DGP under the BJP government in the last three years. According to sources, the government is unhappy with Sandhu for failing to control the violence that erupted on Friday. The ensuing clashes had killed 38 people and injured 350 as Dera supporters ran riot in Panchkula and other parts of the state.
Mobs had rampaged through the streets and set fire to government buildings, railway stations, petrol pumps and broadcast vans in the city. A trail of destruction was also left through Sirsa, which houses the Dera’s headquarters.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, too, had come under fire for ignoring intelligence inputs that had warned Dera supporters were arming themselves for the protests. It is not clear whether the buck for the mob fury would stop with the DGP or whether those in the government would also face action.
This is the third time under the Khattar government that Haryana has been brought to its knees by a mob - first by followers of godman Rampal and then by the Jat protesters last year.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had also lashed out at the Khattar government, saying it allowed Panchkula to burn for political gains. “You allowed the city to burn for political gains. It seems the government has surrendered to agitators,” the court said.
BJP, however, has backed Khattar despite the growing calls for his resignation. Haryana BJP in charge, Anil Jain, said that while the loss of life during the protests was sad, the state government was efficient in its response and was able to arrest the violence within three hours of it breaking out.
The party’s social media chief, Amit Malviya, also jumped to Khatttar’s defence. He tweeted that the Haryana administration “did well” to contain a difficult situation quickly.
Hours after reports of violence, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, too, had given a clean chit to Khattar, saying the state governments of Haryana and Punjab did take precautions and could not be blamed for the violence. Parts of Punjab also witnessed violence, including the torching of a petrol pump, but no casualties were reported from the state.