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What Khattar Govt Can Learn from the Chandigarh Administration

The twin city was a study in contrast. Despite a week’s advance warning, constant intelligence inputs of Dera supporters trickling into the city under the pretext of work or visits to relatives, the Haryana government failed to prevent Friday’s violent turn of events.

Jyoti Kamal | CNN-News18jyotik

Updated:August 26, 2017, 2:16 PM IST
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What Khattar Govt Can Learn from the Chandigarh Administration
A member of the security force walks towards a burning vehicle during violence in Panchkula. (Photo: REUTERS)
Panchkula: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has finally articulated what everyone has been suspecting — the Manohar Lal Khattar government allowed the situation in Panchkula to deteriorate for political reasons.

Consider the visible difference between how Chandigarh managed its security while Panchkula messed up the arrangements.

With tight barriers, layers of security, all entry points sealed, reserve forces deployed, temporary jails in place, constant supervision by the Director General of Police, the Union territory of Chandigarh was nothing like Panchkula.

The twin city was a study in contrast. Despite a week’s advance warning, constant intelligence inputs of Dera supporters trickling into the city under the pretext of work or visits to relatives, the Haryana government failed to prevent Friday’s violent turn of events.

The visits eventually turned to large gatherings at several locations in Panchkula. This had already started three days before the verdict and the Haryana government, administration and police, all failed to gear up for what almost everyone anticipated — a violent Dera outburst in case of an adverse verdict against Dera Sacha Sauda chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

The special CBI Court is situated at a stone’s throw distance from the Army’s Western Command Headquarters. Barely two kilometres away, were thousands of Dera supporters staging sit-ins and protests.

Even while the Dera maintained that they had nothing to do with the huge gathering of its supporters, speaking to the followers indicated otherwise.

Many of them came forth to say that they are not in a position to decide on their actions after the verdict, as they are under the command of their leaders who would advise them on what is to be done.

Another Dera supporter, leading a confrontation with the police near a roundabout that leads to the CBI Special Court, said, they are in constant touch with a 35-member committee that is issuing directions.

Despite the Dera supporters arriving from Punjab, Haryana and faraway states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, with just a small bag and a bedsheet, they did not fall short on logistics.

A constant supply of food, water, snacks and energy drinks was provided via an organised network, to the tens of thousands of Dera supporters who camped here for two days ahead of the verdict.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on getting news reports indicating the massive gathering of Dera supporters in Panchkula, despite Section 144 being imposed, asked for the crowd to be dispersed the night before the verdict.

Director General of Haryana Police BS Sandhu also gave assurances that they will be cleared and later said they have been localised to two areas near Sector 5 and Sector 23 and that they are a peaceful bunch.

While Sector 5 is very close to the special CBI court, Sector 23 is on the other side of the highway that runs close to the CBI court.

Despite this proximity, and promises of evacuation, the Haryana police only made a couple of announcements the night before and let the situation remain exactly as it was.

That was a mistake that would cause 31 people to lose their lives on Friday.

Chandigarh, on the other hand, deployed its police force to seal every entry point into the city with multi-layered barriers, concertina fencing and manned every road leading into the city to make sure Dera supporters do not sneak in.

Hotels and guest houses were told to keep a close watch on people looking for rooms. The city ended up turning into a refuge for Panchkula residents looking for safety.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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