‘Paudhe Bheejo’: Code For Mass Self-immolation Post Ram Rahim Verdict
This was a credible intelligence input that Dera Ram Rahim may incite its followers to mass self-immolation if Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted. This worried the Haryana administration as it prepared for a show down with the 'Premis' congregating in Panchkula.
A member of the security forces reacts during violence in Panchkula. Image: Reuters
Chandigarh: Haryana government was worried that Dera Ram Rahim may incite its followers to mass self-immolation if Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted by the CBI Court in Panchkula. "Paudhe Bheejo" or sow the seeds was the pre-decided code word to trigger the mayhem if the Baba was not acquitted.
This was a credible intelligence input which worried the Haryana administration as it prepared for a show down with the 'Premis' congregating in Panchkula.
The situation, sources in the government insist, would have been much worse had Ram Rahim refused to come to the CBI court for the sentencing.
The Manohar Lal Khattar government had seven days to make security arrangements for the hearing and it decided to pour all its resources into getting the Dera Sacha Sauda chief to appear at the court.
According to sources, the government feared that if he did not come for the hearing, in case of a guilty verdict, orders for his arrest would have to be issued in Sirsa, and this would have given time to his followers to reinforce themselves to prevent the arrest.
Police was also worried that arresting him from the Dera headquarters, where more than 50,000 of his followers could be gathered with arms and ammunition, would have been a nightmare situation.
“We did not want to use excessive force to evict the followers and then have him use that as a pretext the next day to say he is being stopped by his followers from coming outside the Dera premises,” said an official.
That would have led to further judicial proceedings and given more time to Dera supporters to fortify the sect’s headquarters. A showdown in Sirsa would have been a disaster and casualty figures would have skyrocketed, an officer close to Khattar told News18.
Officials said that the government did not want a repeat of the 2014 Rampal incident at Satlok Ashram near Hisar, where the godman’s supporters had prevented police entry and it had led to violent clashes.
As in the Rampal incident, there was a possibility that Ram Rahim, too, would not come to the special CBI court for the verdict. The Dera chief had not been making personal appearances in the court for a long time and was attending through video conferencing on the pretext of a threat to his life.
Sources now tell us that behind the scenes the Haryana Government went into a huddle, which they claim was to plan a way to avoid loss of life. Senior bureaucrats, cabinet ministers, police officials and intelligence units held several meetings with CM Khattar to figure out the best way to ensure the presence of the Dera chief in the court.
While no one was privy to the judgment in the 15-year-old case, Ram Rahim had been busy negotiating with the government in backroom parleys. For some reason, sources say, Ram Rahim was hopeful that he will not have to go to a regular jail in case he was found guilty. He had come for the verdict with a high profile Supreme Court lawyer to bail him out. He also wanted to be accommodated in a place befitting his “stature” during the two-hour or so of waiting during the bail formalities.
But with all the focus on getting him into the court, the government, perhaps, neglected the mayhem that could occur afterwards. It all ended with violence that erupted in Panchkula and Sirsa that led to 36 people losing their lives, over 350 getting injured and destruction of property in several districts of the state and in parts of Punjab and Delhi.
Government sources also say the central government was kept abreast with the developments in Panchkula and all possibilities were shared with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Instead of the best option, the strategy was to use the path of least resistance to make sure the Dera chief comes to court, is brought to justice and a massive protest is avoided. Perhaps that is why Khattar got a quick clean chit from the Rajnath Singh and also talk of his removal from the CM post has, for now, been shelved.
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