National News

Haryana chief minister refuses to step down over violence after Dera chief’s rape case verdict

After meeting BJP President Amit Shah, Manohar Lal Khattar told the media that the situation in the state had returned to normal.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday defended his government’s handling of the violence that broke out in the state after self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted in a rape case. On August 26, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had criticised Khattar’s government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inaction over the number of casualties that took place after the verdict was announced.

The situation in the state is normal, Khattar said, adding that the state is prepared to deal with any kind of situation in the future. The chief minister was addressing media persons after meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah in Delhi. “Jo maangta hai vo maangta rahe, humne apna kaam acchi tarah kiya tha [Those who are asking for my resignation, let them ask. We did our work well),” Khattar said.

The chief minister also denied reports that the Dera Sacha Sauda chief was given preferential treatment. “[Singh’s adopted daughter] Honeypreet Insan had appealed to the Central Bureau of Investigation court asking to be allowed in the court and inside the jail as a helper, but the jail authorities did not allow it,” Khattar said.

Singh’s supporters went on a rampage in Chandigarh, Haryana and some parts of Delhi after he was convicted in a rape case against him on August 25, leading to the deaths of 38 people and injuries to over 250.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had 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 had said.

A Central Bureau of Investigation court on Monday sentenced Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in prison for raping two of his followers in 2002. These are consecutive sentences, which means he has to serve a 10-year term in jail for each case one after the other.

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