The administrations in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have imposed prohibitory orders, as over a lakh supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh gathered in Panchkula ahead of a court verdict in a rape case against him, The Hindu reported. The officials have also suspended mobile internet services for 72 hours with immediate effect.
The decisions were taken at a coordination committee meeting of representatives from Haryana, Punjab and Union Territory Chandigarh under the chairmanship of Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore.
The governments have also asked the Railways to stop all passenger trains entering Chandigarh. Around 400 paramilitary personnel were deployed across Chandigarh on Wednesday, reported The Indian Express. The large numbers of Ram Rahim supporters triggered panic among residents. Schools, colleges and shops remained closed in both Chandigarh and Panchkula.
Six companies each of the Rapid Action Force and Central Reserve Police Force, as well as two each of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Central Industrial Security Force, carried out a joint flag march along with Chandigarh Police on Wednesday. All heads of police will remain on duty for the next two days, and 6,000 officers have been deployed in the city.
In Panchkula, six companies of paramilitary personnel have been deployed since Monday. Although prohibitory orders have been imposed across Haryana, Director General of Police BS Sandhu said it had been impossible to prevent Ram Rahim’s followers from gathering in Panchkula.
“How can we stop 1.5 lakh people from entering Panchkula,” he said. “It is a district that does not have just one or two entry routes, but multiple routes. They are entering Panchkula from Chandigarh, Punjab and other areas.”
Deploy additional security: Chandigarh High Court
The Chandigarh High Court on Thursday asked the Haryana government to deploy additional security. “We don’t want a situation similar to the one that was created during the Jat agitation in Haryana,” the bench said.
“We will direct the Army if you don’t do the needful,” it told the Centre. It also directed the Intelligence Bureau to give necessary inputs to the Haryana government.
The Centre has assured that necessary steps will be taken to maintain peace in the region during the court verdict on Friday. The Haryana government told ANI that 53 companies of the Central paramilitary forces, and 50,000 personnel of the Haryana Police have been deployed.
Haryana’s Additional Chief Secretary Ram Niwas said each event will be recorded and drones will be set up for surveillance. Mobile internet services and data services will be suspended for 72 hours in all three places,” he said, adding that bus services to Chandigarh have been suspended.
Will appear in court: Ram Rahim
Meanwhile, Ram Rahim asked his followers maintain peace. “I have always respected the law,” he said on Twitter. “Though I have a backache, I will follow the law and go to the court...I have faith in good. I appeal to everybody to remain peaceful.”
The case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was registered in 2002 based on two anonymous letters that claimed he had sexually exploited two female followers. Singh has denied the allegations. A Panchkula court is expected to pronounce its verdict on Friday.