Dera violence: Rajnath to hold high level meeting

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. PTI file

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. PTI file

The battle of one-upmanship continues between Punjab and Haryana even as the two states burned on Friday, following the verdict against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case.

Speaking to reporters on the latest law and order situation in the state in the wake of Friday's violence in Panchkula after Ram Rahim was declared guilty by a CBI court, the CM said there had been no trouble anywhere since last night. "I appeal to everyone, especially to the people of Punjab and Haryana to maintain peace and the bonds of communal brotherhood at all costs", he said. "We are in touch with the Western Command and the south western command", the Chief Minister said. This, and the fact that the entire Punjab police and the government was in the field yesterday, had ensured that things remained peaceful in the state, he added. Chief Minister, who is planning to visit some of the affected areas of Punjab on Sunday to congratulate the people and the forces on the ground for maintaining peace, said Haryana's main fault was its failure to prevent such a large crowd from gathering in Panchkula.

Thousands of security personnel, including para-military forces, have been deployed to control the "premis" or sect followers at Panchkula, as they converged from across the region.

She said it was the third such occasion when the Khattar Government has badly let down the people.

They were Patiala, Sangrur, Ferozepur, Mansa, Faridkot, Bathinda and two sub-divisions Malout in Muktsar Sahib and Abohar in Fazilka district.

Punjab launched search operations at 98 Naam Charcha Ghars of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda across state and recovered lathis, pipes and rods, axes and petrol bombs from the premises. Despite imposing Section 144 and despite efforts of Haryana Police, these followers are still on roads. On Saturday, the CM chose to duck questions on both him and Congress seeking dera support in previous elections and whether his party would distance itself from the dera now.

According to reports, Singh will brief Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the violence.

Internet services were being suspended for 72 hours beginning Thursday evening following a collective decision to this effect by the authorities in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

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