Dera violence: Centre rushes forces to Punjab, Haryana
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Last Updated: Sunday, February 28, 2010, 23:41
Chandigarh: An uneasy calm prevailed on Sunday in parts of Haryana and Punjab hit by violence after filing of a fresh murder case against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, as authorities tightened security with the Centre rushing 1,200 paramilitary personnel to the affected areas.

At least 50 people were arrested in the two states and cases of arson, damaging public property and disturbing peace filed against them, police said, adding prohibitory orders were clamped in worst affected Sirsa, where the sect is based, Fatehbad, Jind and Hisar in Haryana

Patrolling has been intensified to keep an eye on anti- social elements, while security has been beefed up at public places like railway and bus stations and malls.

Punjab ADGP (Law and Order) J P Birdi said the situation was peaceful and no untoward incident was reported.

The Centre has asked the states to take severe action against those breaking law and order.

"We have sent central paramilitary forces, 12 companies to Punjab and Haryana to take care of the situation. Strict instructions have been given to the state governments to take severe action against those breaking law and order," Union Home Secretary G K Pillai told reporters in Delhi.

Resenting the filing of a murder case against Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by the CBI, sect supporters last evening went on a rampage setting ablaze four trains and around 37 vehicles, including 27 buses, and vandalised property in several places in Punjab and Haryana.

The sect chief, who held a religious congregation at Sirsa amid tight security today, claimed the case against him was false and that his followers were not involved in the violence as it is against their beliefs.

Last week, the CBI had booked the 42-year-old Dera chief for the murder of sect manager Faqir Chand in 1991. Besides the sect head, four others were booked by the CBI in the case.

The Dera chief also faces three other cases including one of sexual exploitation and two of murder of another sect Manager and a Sirsa-based journalist.

Condemning the violence, the main opposition Congress in Punjab demanded resignation of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also holds the Home portfolio.

Badal, meanwhile, warned of strict action against those who violate the law. He said that 90 rioters have already been rounded up. The DGP was supervising law and order arrangements and extra forces have been rushed to sensitive areas.

"Let there be no confusion in anyone's mind. No one will be allowed to get away with lawless acts. Peace and communal harmony will be maintained at all costs," he said addressing a gathering on the occasion Holla Mohalla festivities at Anadpur Sahib.

The mobs had on Saturday evening torched and damaged 37 vehicles, 27 of them buses, in Bathinda, Mansa, Talwandi Sabo, Bhagapurana and other places in Punjab and at Kaithal, Sirsa and Fatehabad in Haryana.

There was a report of fire in a bus early this morning in Panipat, though the police maintained that it was not related to the Dera violence.

"The situation is completely peaceful in Haryana. No untoward incident has been reported from anywhere so far today," Haryana DGP (law and order) V N Rai said, adding road and rail traffic in the state was running normally.

However, few trains including Punjab Mail, Sriganganagar- Haridwar express and Bathinda Inter City remained suspended on Ferozepur-Ambala rail sections, a Northern Railway spokesman said.

The protesters yesterday set afire a compartment each of the Ferozepur-Ludhiana Sutlej Express, the Narwana-Kurukshetra train and two local trains after asking the passengers to disembark. They also vandalised railway property at Tapa, Moga and Kalaiyat in Punjab, he said.

In Moga, the protesters had tried to set ablaze the District Administration Complex, housing among others the offices of the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP, prompting police to fire in air to disperse them.


First Published: Sunday, February 28, 2010, 23:41

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