Panchkula: After the riots swallowed the two states of Punjab and Haryana, the High courts of the respective states remarked ‘the Prime Minister is of the nation and not the BJP’, on Saturday. The stir occurred as a result of conviction of godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
The Centre and Haryana government came under scrutiny for administrative lapses after at least 31 people were killed and property worth millions of rupees were damaged in riots that broke out on Friday when the Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief was convicted of rape charges.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the violence and appealed for peace.
“Instances of violence are deeply distressing. Strongly condemn violence to urge everyone to maintain peace,” he tweeted.
But the court termed the Centre’s response to the violence “only a knee-jerk reaction”, as reported by the HT, “Why do you (the Centre) treat the region as colonies?” asked a full bench of acting chief justice SS Saron and justices Surya Kant and Avneesh Jhingan.
“National integrity is above parties. Are we one nation or a party nation?” the court responded after additional solicitor general Satya Pal Jain argued that such violence had happened in states ruled by other parties.
It also pointed out the BJP government in Haryana for “politically surrendering” to the Dera Sacha Sauda, which claims to have 50 million followers across northern India and is understood to flaunt considerable political influence.
“This was a political surrender to lure vote banks … they were outsiders, you allowed them to enter and stay,” said the three-judge bench.
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar has been showing criticism for letting nearly 200,000 followers of the controversial but influential spiritual leader gather in Panchkula before a CBI court held him guilty of raping two women 15 years ago.
But the court was not convinced with his comments. “If the CM came to know in a day about anti social elements, why couldn’t you prevent their entry over the past seven days?”
The state government on Saturday suspended the Panchkula deputy commissioner of police for the lapses. Forces responded with tear gas shells, batons and finally, firing.
As the violence spread from Punjab and Haryana to Rajasthan, New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, the high court ruled that the Dera would pay damages and sought a list of its properties.
The court asked deputy commissioners in Haryana to submit lists of Dera’s movable and immovable assets, its bank accounts and incomes. Dera properties across Haryana were sealed on Saturday.
The rock star guru runs an empire under the brand name MSG and has brands spread over from oil to hospitals. The Dera chief who studied up to Class 10 runs 11 schools and two colleges, including a management institute. The Dera also has factories for confectionery products in its 800-acre headquarters on the outskirts of Sirsa in Haryana.