The Haryana government on Sunday announced that all schools and colleges in Panchkula, Rohtak, Kaithal and Ambala would remain closed on Monday ahead of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s sentencing in a rape case, ANI reported. Bulk messaging and mobile internet services have also been suspended in Kaithal till Monday.
The government also announced that Section 144 would remain in force in Ambala until further orders. However, voice calls on mobile networks would not be affected by the restrictions, the Haryana Home Department said.
Additionally, broadband internet services at the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa have also been suspended for a day. Four more Army columns have been deployed in Sirsa ahead of Rahim Singh’s sentencing, IANS reported, taking the total number of such columns to 12.
The Army also conducted a flag march in the town on Sunday. “There will be no relaxation in curfew in Sirsa on Monday,” Sirsa Deputy Commissioner of Police Prabhjot Singh said, according to ANI. “It will be imposed throughout the day.”
Haryana Director General of Police BS Sandhu said the curfew had been imposed only in Sirsa. Of the 38 people who had died in the violence, 32 were killed in Panchkula and six in Sirsa, he added.
The Haryana Police have stepped up security arrangements in Rohtak. Border Security Force personnel and Haryana Police are stationed around the jail where Singh is lodged. Haryana Additional Director General of Police Mohammad Akil on Sunday said that 23 companies of paramilitary forces had been deployed in the city.
Central Bureau of Investigation judge Jagdeep Singh is to be flown to Rohtak on Monday to pronounce the Dera chief’s quantum of sentence. A room in the district jail in Sunaria will serve as a court room, a statement by the High Court of Haryana and Punjab had said on Saturday.
The events so far
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Saturday criticised the Manohar Lal Khattar government as well Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inaction over the number of casualties that took place after Dera Sacha Sauda chief Ram Rahim Singh was convicted on Friday for raping a devotee. The court held the Haryana chief minister directly responsible for the chaos and accused him of protecting Dera Sacha Sauda. “You let a city like Panchkula burn for political gains,” the court said on Saturday.
Meanwhile, a high-level meeting was held at the residence of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and was attended by Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the intelligence bureau chief. “In the ongoing situation we can’t blame anyone, the directorate general has assured us that the matter is under control,” Mehrishi told the reporters after the meeting.
The Dera Sacha Sauda chief had been convicted in a rape case from 2002 on August 25. Following the conviction, supporters of Ram Rahim Singh indulged in violence and arson, leading to the deaths of 38 people and injuries to over 250.