An uneasy calm prevailed in Punjab and Haryana on Saturday after incidents of violence a day ago left 30 people dead following the Dera sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s conviction in a rape case.
Army units patrolled several places across the two states through the night that were affected in the Friday mayhem leaving nearly 250 others injured.
Flag marches were held by the soldiers on Saturday morning in 10 places in southwest Punjab’s Malwa belt and Panchkula and Sirsa towns in Haryana.
Curfew continued on Saturday in a few districts in south-west Punjab, including Mansa, Bathinda, Patiala, Fazilka, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Malout, Sangrur and Barnala following the violence.
Curfew also continued in Panchkula, Sirsa and Kaithal towns in Haryana.
Educational institutions have been ordered to remain shut at several places in both states till Monday.
Panchkula town, adjoining here, which bore the brunt of the violence on Friday resembled a war zone with scores of burnt vehicles and properties damaged or torched.
On August 25, CBI special judge Jagdeep Singh held the Dera sect leader, who has lakhs of followers mainly in Punjab and Haryana, guilty of raping and sexually exploiting two female disciples in 2002.
The sect chief was shifted to a prison near Rohtak town (about 70 km from Delhi) and was lodged in a barrack in the jail.
Prison officials said that the self-styled godman, who was used to a life of ultra luxury in the past three decades, had a sleepless night. He will be medically examined on Saturday.
The prison, where the sect chief was lodged, was put under heavy security.
The BJP government in Haryana, led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, was under attack from all quarters for going soft on the Dera chief, who had openly supported the BJP in the 2014 elections, and his unruly followers who did mayhem in Panchkula.
Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) B.S. Sandhu said that narcotic substance, three rifles, three pistols and ammunition have been recovered from the vehicles that arrived in Panchkula as part of motorcade of the Dera chief.
The sect chief had arrived at the court complex on Friday afternoon in full spectacle of over 200 cars, including several luxury SUVs and Z-plus security police vehicles despite prohibitory orders imposed by authorities all across Haryana.
“Sixty-five cars of the motorcade have been impounded. About 600 persons have been taken into custody and verification of about 550 would be carried out,” the DGP said.
He claimed that 28 people, including one in Sirsa, were killed in the violence.
Sirsa district Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Govind Gupta said on Saturday that two more persons died and seven others with bullet injuries were admitted to the government hospital in the town, 260 km from here.
The Dera Sacha Sauda sect has its headquarters about eight km from Sirsa town.
DGP Sandhu said two Senior Superintendents of Police, one Deputy Superintendent of Police and 60 constables were injured in the violence on Friday.
“Peace is prevailing in Panchkula from where Dera followers had been driven out completely. They were being sent back to their respective places.
“Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) has been imposed in several parts of the state,” the DGP said.
On Friday, security forces fired at rampaging mobs in Panchkula after the CBI court’s verdict.
The quantum of punishment in the case will be pronounced on Monday.