Chandigarh/New Delhi/ Rohtak: As the toll in Friday’s violence rose to 38 on Sunday, security was beefed up in Haryana’s Rohtak district and Sunaria prison in Rohtak city was turned into a virtual fortress, a day before a CBI judge is scheduled to pronounce the sentence against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, lodged in the prison after his conviction for rape on Friday.
Panchkula-based judge Jagdeep Singh will travel to Rohtak and announce the Dera chief’s sentence at around 2.30 pm at a makeshift court in the jail on Monday.
The police and paramilitary personnel have been deployed in Rohtak and the Army was put on standby on Sunday. Schools and colleges across Haryana and Punjab will remain closed on Monday, officials said.
Violence may erupt, warns intel
As curfew continued in Sirsa, where the Dera headquarters is located, the state government extended the statewide suspension of mobile Internet services, including 2G, 3G, 4G, CDMA and GPRS, all SMS services and all dongle services on mobile networks, except voice calls, till 11.30 am on Tuesday. Similar curbs were imposed in Punjab. The Internet leased lines at the Dera premises in Sirsa were also suspended till Tuesday.
All educational institutions, including government and private schools, colleges and other institutions in the entire state, will remain closed on Monday, additional chief secretary (Home) Ram Niwas said.
Some schools in Delhi and parts of Uttar Pradesh have also decided to remain shut on Monday.
Haryana DGP B.S. Sandhu told reporters in Chandigarh that maintaining law and order will be the top priority on Monday. Apart from the police, 23 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed.
A multi-layer security cordon has been thrown around the jail where Mr Singh has been lodged, Mr Sandhu said.
Earlier, Mr Sandhu said Dera ashrams were searched and sanitised ahead of the sentencing of the cult chief on Monday.
The jail is located at Sunaria, on the outskirts of Rohtak city, which resembles a garrison town with security pickets all over the place. Meanwhile, violence may erupt in Haryana on Monday after the quantum of sentence is pronounced, state’s intelligence agency cautioned.
Inspector General of Police (Rohtak range) Navdeep Virk, who is overseeing security arrangements in Rohtak, said there was a “complete clampdown” on Dera centres (known as Naam Charcha Ghar) and all its functionaries who could gather people for creating trouble have been put under detention in the state.
Mr Sandhu, meanwhile said, Army was on standby in Rohtak to meet any eventuality. Section 144 prohibiting assembly of five or more persons, and carrying of firearms and other weapons is already in place in Rohtak.
Under attack over the massive violence, the Haryana government had suspended Ashok Kumar, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Panchkula, saying his “defective” prohibitory orders allowed the crowd build-up in the district.
Meanwhile, authorities in Punjab and Haryana have started identifying movable and immovable assets of the cult on the directions of the high court, officials said.
Two Dera spokesmen, Aditya Insan and Dhiman Insan, were booked for sedition on the basis of news reports that accused them of inciting the violence on Friday. The Punjab and Haryana high court took notice of the news report, after which an FIR was lodged in Panchkula. Sedition and attempt to murder charges have also been slapped on seven persons, including five Haryana police personnel, who were part of the Dera chief’s security detail when he had arrived at the Panchkula CBI court on Friday.
“Sedition charge has been slapped against seven persons, including five Haryana police personnel,” inspector Karambir Singh of said on Sunday.