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Search operation continue at Dera headquarters

Local authorities and security forces continued their search operation at the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters near Haryana’s Sirsa town for the third day on Sunday.

Curfew continued in the villages around the headquarters premises with paramilitary forces and Haryana Police keeping a strict watch.

Officials said that court commissioner A.K. Pawar, appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to supervise the operation of the sprawling 700-acre Dera headquarters, is likely to hold a meeting with civil and police officers on Sunday evening to assess the progress and decide on how long it will continue.

Some former followers of the sect who had broken away from it, alleged that nothing big had been found in the search operation that began on Friday.

They alleged that the Dera management could have taken away incriminating evidence and other things.

Two secret tunnels and an illegal explosives factory were found inside the premises on Saturday.

Haryana government spokesman Satish Mishra said a case has been registered against the Dera.

Irregularities were found in the functioning of the hospital inside the Dera campus. These included a skin clinic being operated without licence, irregularities in pregnancy tests and the bodies being sent to other hospitals.

One of the tunnels was linked from the “gufa” (cave), a huge pink coloured building that was the ultra-luxury home of the rape-convicted sect chief, to the hostel for female disciples (sadhvis).

According to sources, the search teams also found hundreds of pairs of shoes, designer clothes and colourful caps of the now jailed Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

A few computers, a luxury SUV and currency notes were seized by the authorities.

The Dera is spread over two campuses, 600 acres and over 100 acres respectively, about eight km from Sirsa and 260 km from Chandigarh. It houses a stadium, a hospital, educational institutions, luxury resort, bungalows and markets.

Ram Rahim was convicted in the 1999 rape cases by a CBI special court in Panchkula on August 25. He was later sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment and is lodged in the District Jail at Sunaria near Rohtak.

His conviction led to violence in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana, leaving 38 people dead and 264 injured. Isolated incidents of violence were also reported from Delhi and several other places in Punjab.