PANCHKULA: The city is under lockdown with just hours left for the CBI court's verdict today in a rape case against self-styled godman and Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Tension is mounting as Haryana Police and para-military forces tried to evict Dera followers gathered at various places in Panchkula through the intervening night of Thursday and Friday but were unsuccessful.
With Dera followers swarming roads, parks and other open spaces and several roads being barricaded, residents have been having a hard time for last three days. The Dera followers known as `premis’ did not move out despite the police making repeated announcements last night that they should leave the city and go back. Special buses were also deployed for the purpose.
Haryana Director General of Police BS Sandhu said that 20 columns of the Army had been requisitioned and they had staged a flag march today morning.
Yesterday the Punjab and Haryana High Court had rapped the Haryana government for its failure to stop the assembly of such a large number of followers despite imposition of the prohibitory orders. The court had asked the police to remove the followers from and apprise it this morning about action taken.
Late at night the Dera chief himself Gurmeet Ram Rahim released a video message asking his followers to go back home from Panchkula where they had gathered. He had been asked by the court to be present during the verdict.
He told his followers that he would be in court this morning to listen to the verdict.
Ram Rahim left for the special CBI court here from his sect headquarters near Sirsa in Haryana by road and is expected reach around 2 PM. Hundreds of vehicles are in his convoy, as he is a Z-plus protectee. Earlier it was said that he would be arriving at Panchkula on a helicopter.
As he decided to travel by road, the route taken by him was submitted to the police by the Dera management. He will head from Sirsa to Fatehabad then to Bhuna further to Uklana and then to Narwana, Kaithal via Kurukshetra and Ambala in Haryana. Then he enters Punjab to Dera Bassi and goes on to Zirakpur enters Haryana again and finally heads to Panchkula.
Sources said the roads through which his cavalcade would pass would be cleared for traffic and it is likely that Haryana police officers would be accompanying him, as at many places along the way Dera followers have gathered in droves.
The verdict in the case is likely to be announced around 2.30 pm.