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Dera chief gets VIP treatment in jail

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Convicted of rape and criminal intimidation on two counts, Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh continued to get VIP treatment from Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar government in prison.

The Dera Sacha Sauda chief, according to police sources, was provided with an air-conditioned room in the prison near Rohtak town, around 70 km from Delhi.

“From arranging a special helicopter to providing an air-conditioned room and helping in using facilities meant for police officers, the Khattar government is extending all help to the lawfully disgraced Dera chief even after his conviction in such a serious crime as rape. This is appalling,” a police source, who saw some of these things happen on Friday and Saturday, told IANS.

A woman, Honeypreet, whom the Dera website describes as his daughter (not real daughter), was allowed to accompany him along with bags and suitcases when Ram Rahim, after being taken into custody was flown in a specially arranged helicopter from the police lines complex in Panchkula.

Even after being taken into custody, the Dera chief was shown full respect by a section of officers instead of being treated like a convicted criminal.

“A couple of senior officers, who tried to take the Dera chief to task and treat him like any other criminal after his conviction were physically assaulted by his (sect chief’s) security.

“One senior officer was slapped and other one was pushed in the presence of other top officers. The Haryana Police had to detain his security for some time to take him into its custody following the conviction,” the police officer said.

The sect chief had openly announced support for the BJP in the 2014 elections. Millions of his followers in the region voted as per his diktat. He even went to cast his own vote.

The BJP, for the first time, came to power in Haryana on its own in the October 2014 assembly elections.

Panchkula town, adjoining here, where the CBI court announced the sect chief guilty, bore the brunt of the violence on Friday and resembled a war zone with scores of burnt vehicles and properties damaged or torched.

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 self-styled godman is used to a life of ultra luxury and ostentatious public appearances.

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17 die in violence after Dera chief is held guilty of rape

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Dera, Ram Rahim Singh

At least 17 people were killed on Friday as security forces fired at rampaging mobs in Panchkula town in Haryana after a court held self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of rape and sexual exploitation. The violence also gripped parts of Haryana and Punjab, leaving more than 200 people injured.

Curfew was imposed in Mansa, Bathinda, Patiala, Fazilka and Ferozepore towns in Punjab as supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief who had been waiting anxiously for days for the verdict by a CBI special court went on a violent spree. Panchkula town in Haryana, which adjoins Chandigarh, resembled a war zone in no time.

The Army was called out in 10 places in Punjab.

It all began when CBI special judge Jagdeep Singh held the controversial sect leader, who has lakhs of followers mainly in Punjab and Haryana, guilty of raping and sexually exploiting two female disciples in 2002. The sentence will be pronounced on Monday.

As the 15-year-long court battle ended, the sect chief was taken into custody. Soldiers deployed earlier rushed to the court and took charge. After a quick medical examination, the so-called godman was flown to a jail in Rohtak in Haryana.

Ram Rahim Singh stood in the court with his hands folded in prayer and his eyes closed when the judge started reading the verdict. The tens of thousands of supporters massed outside and who initially thought he would be let off first became gloomy — then furious.

Even though the verdict was announced amid unprecedented security and thousands of police as well as paramilitary forces were deployed outside, the mobs took over the streets in no time, setting fire to scores of vehicles and buildings.

Panchkula residents told IANS on telephone that the crowds had invaded and tried to set fire to a bakery, a cinema theatre and a hotel besides torching scores of cars and two-wheelers. Residents shut themselves inside their homes.

Initially, the vastly outnumbered security forces fled from the mobs as they were attacked along with journalists. Some journalists took shelter in nearby houses to escape the mob fury.
The security forces then opened fire, killing 17 demonstrators.

More than 200 people, including security personnel and journalists, were injured in the mayhem. The dead, bleeding and with bullet wounds, collapsed on the roads, witnesses said. Panchkula looked like a town under siege, plumes of black smoke rising into the sky.

Hours later, Haryana Director General of Police B.S. Sandhu said: “Panchkula is now 100 per cent safe.”

Attempts were made to burn two railways stations in Punjab’s Malout and Mansa towns. An electricity office in Sangrur town was set on fire. Two Income Tax department vehicles were also torched in Mansa.

In Sangrur, a tehsil office in Lehragaga town went up in flames. In Lambi town in Muktsar district also in Punjab, masked men lobbed petrol bombs on a telephone exchange and fired into the air to trigger panic.

Across Haryana, traders lowered the shutters of shops in most towns.

Security of Rohtak town was handed over to the Central Reserve Police Force. The town was also at the centre of widespread Jat agitation violence in February last year.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar appealed to the people to maintain calm.

In Delhi, where two empty train coaches and two buses were set on fire, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made a similar appeal.

Amarinder Singh said: “Our forces are prepared to check any violence.” He said the Army was called out in 10 places. Soldiers did a flag march in Zirakpur and Banur towns, located close to Panchkula.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke with both Khattar and Amarinder Singh and assured them all help to bring the law and order under control.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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