The Dera chief.

The Dera chief.

Huge police bandobast in Punjab for Dera chief’s court verdict on Friday

Prohibitory orders; schools and colleges will remain closed

Agency Report | Chandigarh | 23 August, 2017 | 11:50 PM

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday directed authorities to withdraw 1,000 police personnel from VVIP security and deploy them to strengthen security in the state, an official said.

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting presided over by the Chief Minister ahead of the judgement by a Haryana court this week in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief.

Prohibitory orders had been imposed and all schools and colleges across the state would be closed on Friday — the day the verdict will be pronounced, an official spokesperson said here.

He said a complete ban had been issued on carrying of firearms, with orders to shut down the private gun houses selling arms and ammunition, till the situation normalises.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Director General of Police Suresh Arora, Intelligence Director General Dinkar Gupta and Law and Order Director General H.S. Dhillon.

The Centre has sanctioned an additional 10 companies of paramilitary forces to maintain law and order in the state.

A total of 85 central companies, along with thousands of policemen, would maintain a vigil, especially in the vulnerable areas of Moga, Bathinda, Sangrur, Barnala, Patiala and Ludhiana, said the spokesperson.

The Chief Minister has ordered senior officers to personally monitor the situation. The Director General of Police will visit various sensitive districts to review the preparations ahead of the verdict.

Amid intelligence reports of followers of Dera Sacha Sauda, of which Ram Rahim is the chief, stocking petrol and arms at the Dera’s Naam Charcha Ghars, the Chief Minister has directed police to crack down on elements trying to disrupt peace and tranquility.

Police have seized five walkie-talkies from suspected sect followers and are trying to identify the various locations suspected to be housing dangerous weapons.

A special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula adjoining Chandigarh will pronounce its verdict in the rape case against Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Friday. The court has asked the sect chief to appear before the court on the day of the verdict.

The case hearing has been going on since 2007.

The sect chief, who has lakhs of followers in Punjab, Haryana and other states, has been accused by a former female follower of raping her more than once inside the sprawling Dera campus on the outskirts of Sirsa town in Haryana, 260 km from Chandigarh.