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Sec 144 imposed across Punjab ahead of Gurmeet Ram Rahim rape case verdict

Sec 144 imposed across Punjab ahead of Gurmeet Ram Rahim rape case verdict
Photo: PTI

Chandigarh: Haryana and Punjab were maintaining maximum alert ahead of the court judgement in a sexual exploitation case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh on August 25.

As a precautionary measure, the Punjab Government has imposed Section 144 across and has ordered closure of schools and colleges in Panchkula district on August 24 and 25, Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Gauri Parashar Joshi told PTI.

Security forces were carrying out flag marches at many sensitive places in both the states. Paramilitary forces have already reached Punjab and Haryana and many more are on way to sensitive places there.

A complete ban on carrying of firearms, with orders to shut down private gun houses selling arms and ammunition to license holders has been issued.

To show their solidarity with the sect chief, Dera followers from various parts of Punjab and Haryana have reached Panchkula in the past two days to attend ‘Naam Charcha’ ahead of the verdict by the CBI court there.

With the arrival of Dera followers, including women, in Chandigarh’s neighbouring city Panchkula, the Union Territory has been declared “sensitive”.

“One lakh ‘premis’ (dear followers) have already arrived in Panchkula,” Chandigarh DGP Tejinder Singh Luthra said and asserted that nobody will be allowed to disturb law and order.

Terming the situation dynamic, Haryana Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Ram Niwas said the state has got additional 10 companies of paramilitary forces and an additional 2,500 police personnel from internal sources have also been mobilised for deployment in different parts of the state.

The godman was accused with rape charges of a female devotee in 1999. The CBI took over the investigation in 2002. On 17 August, the special CBI court of Panchkula concluded hearing in the case but reserved pronouncing the verdict for 25 August.

For the August 17 hearing, Singh was recused from appearing in person at Panchkula by the court. The Dera chief had cited medical reasons for not attending court in person.

The case was registered by the CBI in 2002 against the self-styled godman after allegations of sexual exploitation of two ‘Sadhvis’ (female followers) through anonymous letters.

The hearing has been going on since 2007.

With ANI/ PTI/IANS inputs