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Some Dera Sacha Sauda Followers Regret Gathering in Panchkula

Dera Sacha Sauda followers went on a rampage in Panchkula, Haryana on Friday. (Reuters)

Dera Sacha Sauda followers went on a rampage in Panchkula, Haryana on Friday. (Reuters)

Hundreds of Dera supporters tried to hitch rides, were transported by the police, or got onto buses arranged by the state government to get back to their homes.

Chandigarh: Dera Sacha Sauda followers who had gathered in large numbers at Panchkula have scattered back to their home bases in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh over the last two days. Some of the returning Dera followers spoke to News18 and expressed regret for being part of gatherings at Panchkula in support of the Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim who has convicted of rape.

Hundreds of Dera supporters tried to hitch rides, were transported by the police, or got onto buses arranged by the state government to get back to their homes. Many had to walk for kilometres on end as vehicular traffic was limited on the roads and highways following the violence.

Tens of thousands of Dera supporters had come to Panchkula. They said they came to Panchkula on their own. “No one has compelled us to be here.”

However, when they had to go back they blamed the state for not arranging transport. The police in a bid to quickly empty the Panchkula-Chandigarh-Mohali tri-city area arranged for transport to enter into Punjab, after that it was logistically not possible to arrange anything.

A middle aged woman walking from Rampura in Punjab and trying to make her way back to Ganganagar in Rajasthan said she was not happy after her decision. “I regret having gone there, we should not have gone there,” she said.

Another man on his way to Ferozepur from Panchkula tried to blame the state for the mayhem iwhile others continued to be averse to saying anything.

The biggest Dera Sacha Sauda location is Salabatpura in Bathinda. It had lost its earlier glory following the clashes between Dera and Sikh supporters in 2007. Prior to the verdict at Panchkula, it once again came to life with supporters gathering in numbers. Following the violence, there is an eerie silence here, shops are closed and the Dera completely empty, with police patrolling the streets.

Police sources say many among the crowd were not Dera supporters and had gathered there due to lure of money. They were told they would be paid Rs 1,000 per day. These claims were made by relatives of those who were killed in the Panchkula violence.