Nowadays Haryana and Punjab are on high alert, a large number of paramilitary forces have been deployed besides the police in both the states. All these preparations are not a part of any “mock drill” being practiced for any foreign or terrorist attack, but it is done to take precautionary steps against any agitation that might arise in the state. All these preparations are being done in view of the verdict which is going to be announced by the CBI court of Panchkula on Friday, August 25.
The district court in Panchkula is going to hold the hearing of the case of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who is accused of sexually assaulting a Sadhvi and will pronounce its verdict on Friday. In order to control the situation that might create chaos in the states after the decision taken by the court, Central government along with both the state government have deployed several police forces and paramilitary forces. Across the states of Punjab and Haryana people have filled the streets demonstrating protest in support of Ram Rahim. Be it the elderly people or the children everyone is extending their support to the saint saying that they will not let anyone take a decision against him.
In both the states, the condition of the police is battered as the situation is building up increasing the tension regarding the reaction of the people after the verdict. Some protestors are slogging against the government, few are threatening to take violent actions if the verdict is against the saint and few were also spotted carrying weapons. It seems like Panchkula has been transformed into a fort, but considering the stand of Baba’s supporters, it is difficult to say that for how long this fort will be impregnable.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim has always been surrounded with controversies, he owns around 700 acres of agricultural land in Sirsa district of Haryana. Hansraj Chauhan, who was a saint in Dera Sacha Sauda, filed a petition in the High Court on July 17, 2012, alleging Ram Rahim to make 400 sadhus as impotent. He also revealed the names of 166 sadhus who were victims of this harassment along with him. Hansraj said that a team of doctors on the instructions of Ram Rahim carry forward the operation to make sadhus as impotent. The Sikh society had also accused him of insulting the dress of Guru Gobind Singh. Apart from this, he has also been charged with hurting religious sentiments of people through the film. Serious criminal charges of non-intentional murder and attempt to murder are also registered against Ram Rahim.
Despite all this Ram Rahim has a strong hold on the states of Punjab and Haryana. In fact, it is believed that Dera chief has 5 crore followers all over the world and out of them 1 crore are in Haryana and Punjab only. In this regard, Dera has a direct impact on the politics of both the states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also praised the works of social reform run by Dera Sacha Sauda in the state when he visited Haryana during the 2014 assembly elections campaigns.
During the 2014 Haryana assembly elections, BJP President Amit Shah and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had personally reached his camp and met Baba Ram Rahim. This meeting proved to be fruitful as just 3 days before the election Dera had announced its support to BJP in Haryana and Maharashtra. This appeal had seen a direct impact in the elections and the BJP was successful in forming a government with a majority in both the states.
Dera chief Baba Ram Rahim has a good hold on three dozen Assembly seats in nine districts of Haryana. Around 30-70% of the total number of voters in these seats are his followers. In such a situation, the polarization of these votes can easily be done on his command. Haryana alone has around 25 lakh followers of Dera chief. Prior to his support to BJP, Congress was enjoying the power in the state with his help only. In the 2007 assembly elections and the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Dera had indirectly supported the Congress and the party had won 37 out of 65 seats. Following his strong hold and impact on the politics in the state, he is also regarded as the ‘Godfather’ of Haryana.
Many ministers of Haryana Government can be seen on the doorstep of Baba Ram Rahim’s ashram. All these ministers have also been actively giving grants to Dera Sacha Sauda.
The Dera Sacha Sauda empire is spread not only in Punjab, Haryana or the country but has also reached abroad. Apart from Haryana and Punjab within the country, the branches of Dera camp are spread across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Whereas in abroad it holds branches in America, Canada, Australia, England and UAE. Baba Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim has around 5 million followers throughout the world and everyone is eagerly awaiting this decision of the CBI Court.
Prior to the hearing on the case pending from 10 years of Dera chief Ram Rahim sexually assaulting a sadhvi, Punjab and Haryana have made special security arrangments and is taking all possible steps to be ready to face any type of situation arising after the verdict of the court. In Haryana and Punjab, the state government has announced the closure and had issued strict instructions to stop all the school colleges till August 25. Section 144 has been imposed in many districts of both the states.
In view of the seriousness of the matter and the current situation, the Ministry of Home Affairs has sent 167 companies of paramilitary forces to be deployed in the state. Among the 167 companies, 97 are CRPF companies out of which 4 are women CRPF companies. Along with these 16 RAF, 21 BSF, 12 ITBP and 37 SSB companies have been deployed in Punjab and Haryana. The Center has sent 9700 CRPF personnel to Haryana to keep the system alert. About 64,000 personnel have been deployed in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh. The central government is constantly keeping a watch on the case.
Around 15-20 lakh people are expected to be gathered before the verdict, taking precautionary actions all the borders touching Punjab and Haryana have been sealed and is being monitored by drone cameras.
There are possibilities of Ram Rahim facing difficulties in reaching the court for the hearing, therefore, the government has said that Ram Rahim will be brought from Sirsa to Parik Ground of Panchkula from the helicopter and after that, he will be taken to court between heavy security. In the wake of no disorder, Internet services are also banned in Punjab and Haryana on Friday. 22 trains passing through these states have been canceled for Friday.
According to the report of Intelligence Bureau, Baba’s supporters in Faridkot have collected petrol, diesel and other weapons on rooftops. If the court announces the verdict against Ram Rahim, his followers may use them to harm the government property and block the way of police. To tackle the situation, the state administration has converted the cricket stadium of Sector-16 into a temporary jail. In the event of a deteriorating situation, it will be used to hold the protesters as prisoners.
As per the latest updates regarding the situation in Panchkula, Haryana Police has started sending the devotees of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim back from Panchkula. The high court has issued the orders to evacuate Panchkula and the police with the help of the army have started working on the order. Despite the police sealing all the Panchkula surrounding areas and routes to enter the region around 5 lakh followers have already gathered in the place. Regarding this, the Haryana High Court rebuked the police and questioned that despite the police blockade, how so many people managed to enter Panchkula? The court has also issued the warning of expelling the police commissioner.
Following the warning, the police are on high alert and have claimed that they will evacuate the place as soon as possible. Chandigarh DGP Tejinder Singh Luthra said, “A complete ban has been issued on carrying of firearms, with orders to shut down private gun houses selling arms and ammunition to license holders.”