Dera violence: this should not have happened: Manohar Lal Khattar

Opposition parties are demanding the resignation of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on the grounds of him utterly failing to maintain the law and order in the state.

Dera Sacha chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted by a CBI court of Panchkula on Friday in a 15-year-old rape case. Soon after the court’s verdict was announced his supporters became agitated and in 5 states including Haryana and Punjab stormed on the streets causing damage to life and property. The highest impact of violence was seen in Panchkula, where 30 people died and several were injured while 2 lost their lives in Sirsi.

On the violence, the Punjab-Haryana High Court has thrashed the Khattar government for the third consecutive day. The court said that the government allowed the city to burn for its political advantage. The court ordered that no political, social or religious leader would make any provocative statement and if someone does so, then FIR should be lodged against him. The bench also said in the order, that the officers dealing with the situation should do their job without fear and with fairness. If an officer fails to fulfill his duty fairly, then the court will take strict action against him.

Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar during a press conference on Friday admitted that there were some loop holes in the preparations done prior to the hearing to ensure peace. He said that “lapses have been identified and we are taking appropriate steps, this should not have happened.” Further defending his government he added that strict actions will be taken against all those found guilty in spreading the violence and told that appropriate steps are being taken to handle the situation now.

When asked by the reporters that it was expected that violence might break out if the verdict was against Ram Rahim, then why had the government not take necessary measures, he said that the government had taken every possible step to keep tight security but it could not legally stop the lakhs of supporters of Rahim gathered peacefully to hear the court’s verdict. When questioned about the imposition of article 144 Manohar said that there was some confusion in the implementation of the orders. He clarified that there was an error in the notification issued to apply the article 144 which restricts the gathering of more than 5 people. The notification read that assembly of more than five people carrying ‘arms’ will be unlawful, which culminated in lakhs of followers to gather in Panchkula. However, he added that the notification was later rectified on Thursday evening but it had been too late.

When questioned about the imposition of article 144 Manohar said that there was some confusion in the implementation of the orders. He clarified that there was an error in the notification issued to apply the article 144 which restricts the gathering of more than 5 people. The notification read that assembly of more than five people carrying ‘arms’ will be unlawful, which culminated in lakhs of followers to gather in Panchkula. However, he added that the notification was later rectified on Thursday evening but it had been too late.

Further trying to protect himself and his government from not being blamed for mishandling the situation he said that “All those who have taken the law into their hands will be punished. We have identified some culprits including those who fired (from the mob at security forces), some of whom have been nabbed and action will be taken against them.”

Haryana CM further informed that the government will bear all the charges for the property damaged during the violence, which will later be recovered from the Dera Ashram. He told that 3 outside Broadcasting vans were turned upside down many properties were also damaged, the government will pay for all the losses. Manohar said that the government will soon launch a website in a day or two, where the people could register their damage in detail and claim for the money. The CM also asked the people to lodge their complaints on Har Samay the portal of Haryana Police. “The amount of compensation will later be recovered from the property of Dera Sacha Sauda,” he added.

Manohar said that “Some anti-social elements got mixed up with the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda after the delivery of the verdict by the CBI court in the case involving the Dera chief, resorted to violence and disrupted the peace.” He further urged the people to maintain peace in the state and not get affected by any kind of rumours instigating more violence.

Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Ram Niwas also said that the government will bear all the expenses of the damage done during the outburst and added that the loss of the media and equipment will be compensated by the Haryana government which will later be recovered from the Dera Ashram.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh criticised the Khattar government saying that the situation in the state worsened and got out of control because the state government allowed it to happen so. “The trouble could have been averted had the Dera supporters been stopped from aggregating in one place,” he said. Singh further added that Khattar should have taken precautionary steps in advance like Punjab had done by stopping the buses and trains to reach Panchkula in the first place.

The Haryana government has though assured that the situation is under control now and strict actions will be taken against the guilty responsible to spread the violence, the opposition does not seem to believe this and has demanded the resignation of the Chief Minister.