Not entered Dera headquarters: Army, Haryana Chief Secretary


After moving the Army to surround the headquarters of the Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS) near Sirsa town in Haryana, the Army and the Haryana government clarified on Saturday afternoon that the forces had still not entered the sect's headquarters complex.

Major General Rajpal Punia told media in Sirsa that the Army has no immediate plan to enter the Dera campus.

"There is some confusion that the Army is going inside the Dera campus. At the moment there is no such plan," General Punia said.

He said he would be going to the sect headquarters to talk to the Dera management to vacate the campus.

On evacuation of Dera followers from the headquarters, he said: "We will come back to you."

He added that people in Sirsa have maintained peace so far.

Haryana Chief Secretary D.S. Dhesi told media here that the Army had moved in only to "sanitize" the area in the periphery of the Dera headquarters near Sirsa.

"We have appealed to the Dera followers and management to come out of the complex peacefully. No action has been initiated by the Army so far. The Army has only moved to sanitize the area," Dhesi said.

Paramilitary forces were locked in a clash with Dera supporters near the sect headquarters on Friday which left three people dead and seven others injured.

Earlier in the day, Army and paramilitary forces moved in to get the DSS headquarters, eight km from Sirsa town, vacated, a day after the sect chief was convicted of rape, sparking large-scale violence by his supporters.

There are still thousands of Dera followers inside the sect headquarters, around 260 km from here, sources said.

Authorities in Haryana have also ordered security forces to crack down on the sect campuses elsewhere in Haryana. Dera followers have been asked to move out from such campuses. 

The Haryana government counsel told the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Saturday that there were 36 Dera campuses, known as 'Naam Charcha Ghar' across the state, including the sprawling 800-acre sect headquarters near Sirsa town.

Sources in the government said that two Dera premises in Kurukshetra district had already been sealed by the local authorities after getting these vacated of Dera followers. Action was being initiated in other districts to get Dera campuses vacated and disperse the sect followers. 

On Friday, tens of thousands of supporters of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh went on the rampage in Haryana and Punjab, to vent their anger against the court verdict.

The arson left 31 people dead, 29 in Panchkula town, and nearly 250 others injured.

Vehicles and property were also damaged and set on fire by the unruly Dera followers.

The BJP government in Haryana led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is under fire for its inept handling of the situation following the conviction of the sect chief. The conviction was announced by a CBI special court in Panchkula on Friday.