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Hearing in murder cases against Dera chief: Panchkula on alert

Source: PTI
Last updated on: September 15, 2017 23:40 IST
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Contingents of paramilitary troops and the Haryana Police have been deployed in Panchkula as security arrangements were tightened ahead of Saturday's hearing in two murder cases against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Meanwhile, the Haryana government on Friday said it has put on hold Rs 51 lakh announced for the Dera Sacha Sauda.

In a statement, Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said Rs 51 lakh out of his discretionary funds quota to 'Khel Gaon' of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa, stood withdrawn, keeping in view the verdict delivered by a CBI court convicting Ram Rahim Singh on August 25 in the rape cases.

 

The minister had announced the amount on August 16 during his visit to the Dera headquarters for the sect head's week-long birthday celebrations.

Ram Rahim Singh, 50, will appear before a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Chandigarh through video conferencing from the Rohtak jail, where he is lodged after being sentenced to 20 years in prison in two rape cases.

The CBI court is hearing the cases of murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati and former Dera manager Ranjit Singh.

Under Indian Penal Code Section 302, murder is punishable with life imprisonment or death.

"We have made adequate security arrangements ahead of the hearing in the cases," Haryana Director General of Police B S Sandhu said in Chandigarh on Friday.

Contingents of paramilitary troops and the Haryana Police have been stationed in Panchkula to prevent any untoward incident, he said.

"The hearing in the cases against Ram Rahim, who is lodged in Sunaria jail in Rohtak, will be conducted through video conferencing," Sandhu said.

Ram Rahim was sentenced to 20 years in jail on August 28 in the two rape cases by the special CBI court.

Several parts of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan had witnessed large-scale violence following his conviction in the two rape cases on August 25.

While 41 people were killed in Haryana in the violence, no deaths were reported from Punjab and Rajasthan.

CBI counsel H P S Verma said, "The final arguments in the two murders cases will start tomorrow (Saturday)."

Sirsa-based journalist Chhatrapati was shot at in October, 2002 after the evening newspaper Poora Sach, owned by him, published an anonymous letter narrating how women were allegedly being sexually exploited by the sect head at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa. He died later.

The second case relates to the murder of former Dera manager Ranjit Singh who was allegedly shot dead in 2002. He was murdered for his suspected role in the circulation of the anonymous letter, which had made the sexual exploitation allegations, according to the prosecution.

The Punjab and Haryana high court had, in November 2003, ordered a CBI probe into the murder of Chhatrapati and Ranjit Singh after the families of both the victims approached the court.

The CBI had filed the charge-sheet in the murder cases on July 30, 2007.

Dera spokesperson sent to police remand for 7 days

Meanwhile, Dera Sacha Sauda spokesperson Dilawar Insaan, arrested for allegedly inciting violence after the conviction of Ram Rahim, was on Friday sent to police custody for seven days by a court in Panchkula, Deputy Commissioner of Police of Panchkula Manbir Singh said.

Dilawar, a core member of the Dera, was arrested from Sonipat district on Thursday.

He had gone underground after the conviction of the Dera chief and booked under relevant sections of the IPC and for sedition.

By interrogating Dilawar, Haryana Police hopes to gather vital leads about the sect's key functionaries, including Honeypreet Insaan, the adopted daughter of Gurmeet Ram Rahim.

Haryana Director General of Police B S Sandhu said the questioning of Dilawar may help in tracing other key Dera functionaries like Honeypreet and Aditya Insaan against whom lookout notices have been issued.

His interrogation could also throw light on the planning of violence and arson in Panckula and Sirsa, the police said.

There was large scale violence following the sect head's conviction on August 25, which left 35 people dead in Panchkula and six in Sirsa.

Tightening its noose around the key members of the sect, Haryana police had earlier said it would soon call Dera Sacha Sauda chairperson Vipassana Insaan for questioning.

Honeypreet and Aditya Insaan are still elusive. Haryana police is hopeful of nabbing them soon, presuming that they are still hiding in the country.

Police teams had been sent to other states like Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to trace the Dera functionaries in order to question them, Panchkula Police Commissioner A S Chawla said, adding, "We are chasing our targets very seriously and likely to arrest them soon."

Police are making efforts to trace Honeypreet, who calls herself as 'Papa's angel', after the questioning of another arrested functionary, Surinder Dhiman Insaan, in connection with allegedly making plans of Ram Rahim Singh's escape after he was convicted, police had earlier said.

An FIR was earlier lodged in Panchkula police station on the direction of Punjab and Haryana high court after a statement by a newspaper reporter against Aditya Insaan and Surinder Dhiman Insaan. The duo had been booked for sedition.

Police had also said they need to question Honeypreet on the basis of certain other disclosures by Surinder which made her role in the chain of events connected to the Dera issue suspicious.

Earlier, police had arrested Chamkaur Singh, the in-charge of a Dera centre at Panchkula and Dan Singh, a functionary of the sect.

Photograph: PTI Photo

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