Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has admitted lapses in security arrangements following a verdict against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh but later said that no advance action was taken as it could have created bigger problems.
Talking to reporters on Friday evening, after around 30 people were killed in violence following the Dera Sacha Sauda chief being convicted for rape, Khattar, admitting to mistakes, said: “We are identifying the lapses.”
However, in an interview to India Today TV later, he said action was not taken in advance as it could have made the situation worse.
“We made all efforts, we tried to make them understand. Our forces worked the whole night. But taking action before time could have caused more damage. What if a bullet had been fired two days back… or violence could have erupted… this could have happened two days back as well.
“Our first aim was that Baba should appear in front of the court.. had he not appeared, we would have had to do an operation like we did in Rampal case… the situation could have been worse. We made a plan, and we also had control of the situation,” Khattar claimed.
“The situation that arose after the verdict, we took stern action, 30 people have also died in firing and we are sad, people should not have died. But we had to control the situation.”
Noting his government tried to stop Ram Rahim’s supporters from reaching Panchkula, he said: “We tried to control the crowd, we suspended bus and train services, did checking on the state border.
“But supporters disguised themselves and reached there. We cannot stop every person. People walked on foot, some were there five-days in advance.”
He denied that the government had sympathy for the Dera chief. “There is no sympathy. Anyone who disturbs law and order will be punished,” he said, adding damage to the property will be compensated and will be recovered by selling Ram Rahim’s assets as the Punjab and Haryana High Court said.
“There has been damage to property and some people have died. We will compensate for the losses… The damage should not have happened. Some miscreants entered the crowd,” he said.
Asked about the number of deaths, the Chief Minister said around 30 people died in firing.
He blamed the huge number of Dera supporters for the situation getting out of hand.
“Haryana government made arrangements, but there was a huge mob… He (Dera chief) has lakhs of followers in the country and in the state. We tried to stop them,” he claimed.
Khattar also said paramilitary forces are being deployed in sensitive areas, and the Army has been requisitioned for “vulnerable” areas.
He asserted that the guilty will be brought to book.
“Those who have taken law in their hand will be punished. We have identified some culprits and some arrests have been made,” he added.
The BJP leadership is believed to be unhappy with the way Manohar Lal Khattar handled the situation.
The violence in Panchkula and some other parts of Haryana on Friday was the third major instance of violence in the state since Khattar became Chief Minister of the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Haryana in 2014.
Six people had lost their lives in November 2014 following a standoff between supporters of controversial sect leader Rampal and security forces in Hisar district. Thirty people had died in the Jat agitation for job quotas in the state in February last year.
Party sources said Khattar may not have a grip over the administration, and lapses continued to mar the image of the party and that of the government in the state that could cast a cloud over the central leadership as well.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is also believed to have spoken his mind on the issue when he talked to the Chief Minister. He cut short his visit to Kyrgyzstan and rushed back ahead of the judgment.
The feeling at the Centre is that the Khattar government did not take adequate measures to prevent the Dera supporters from gathering in large numbers in Panchkula.
Party sources said Khattar had a clean image but the incidents had raised doubts about his administrative abilities.
Khattar, a first-time MLA, was chosen by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah to lead the party government in Haryana.
The Haryana government said that the cost of damage caused by violence would be recovered from the properties of the sect.
“The amount of compensation will later be recovered from the property of Dera Sacha Sauda,” Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said here.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state government to provide a list of properties of the sect so that cost of damages could be recovered from the sect management.
The Chief Minister, who is under fire from all quarters for the handling of the Dera chief case verdict despite advance information, stated that his government would provide full compensation within a week to those persons whose property was damaged during disruption of peace by anti-social elements.
Khattar continued to blame anti-social elements for the violence instead of directly blaming the Dera activists for the mayhem that left 30 people dead and nearly 250 injured. (IANS)