Slamming Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for “protecting and extending political patronage” to controversial godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Saturday asked the state to register a case against those who instigated the widespread violence by Dera followers after the sect leader was convicted of rape.
Directing the state to verify a newspaper report on alleged instigation by the sect leaders, the High Court directed the registration of a first information report (FIR) against the instigators “if the reporter stood by his report”.
The High Court bench of Justices S.S. Saron, Surya Kant and Avneesh Jhingan, in its resumed hearing, asked the state about its plans to sanitise the Dera Sacha Sauda located in Sirsa town, some 260 km from here, which is reported to still have thousands of followers inside.
Getting tough, the judges also slammed state Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma for having recently given a grant of Rs 51 lakh to the Dera.
The judges directed the Deputy Commissioners of Punjab and Haryana to provide a list of Dera properties and told them not to sell or transfer the properties.
The court also sought a status report on the deaths in the violence.
A CBI court in Haryana’s Panchkula town, adjoining Chandigarh, on Friday held the Dera chief guilty of rape and sexual exploitation of two women followers in 2002, sparking widespread violence by his followers. The security forces opened fire to control the mob.
At least 31 people, 29 of them in Panchkula town, died in the violence, and 250 others were injured.
Vehicles and property were also damaged and set on fire by the unruly Dera followers.