While taking Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to jail after he was held guilty of rape last week, the Haryana police stymied an attempt by the self-appointed spiritual leader’s “commandos” to free him, a senior officer said on Wednesday. The 50-year-old chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for raping two followers.
Soon after he was declared guilty by a court in Panchkula on Friday, Ram Rahim demanded a “red bag” that he had brought from Sirsa, the main base of his Dera Sacha Sauda sect.
“The Dera chief demanded the bag, saying his clothes were in it. It was actually a signal for his men to spread the news of his conviction among supporters so that they could resort to causing disturbance,” Inspector General of Police KK Rao told reporters yesterday.
As the bag was taken out of the baba’s SUV, sounds of tear gas shells were heard about 2-3 km from the court, the officer said.
“It was then that we understood that there was some meaning behind the signal,” Mr Rao commented.
The policemen also suspected something off when Ram Rahim Singh and his “adopted daughter” Honeypreet Insaan – who is always by his side even escorted him to a jail in Rohtak – kept lingering in the corridor of the Panchkula court complex and appeared to be buying time.
“They were trying to gain time before sitting in the vehicle so that their men could spread the message that he was moving from the court. They were told that you cannot stand here. The mob was about 2-3 km and could have moved closer. We never wanted violence as casualties could have been more,” Mr Rao said.
The police decided to shift him from his own SUV to the car of a police officer, Sumit Kumar. When they were trying to get him to move, Ram Rahim’s security guards ringed around him, Mr Rao alleged.
The Dera chief’s “commandos” – who were armed – came to blows with the police and were even thrashed.
“We took good care that no firing takes place,” Mr Rao said.
The policemen also sensed a threat from some 80 cars and SUVs that had followed the controversial Ram Rahim from Sirsa to Panchkula and were parked next to a nearby theatre. So a plan and a route change were quickly devised.
“Our priority was to first take Ram Rahim to the chopper site… We did not want to use the same route as 70 vehicles were standing. People in those vehicles might have been carrying weapons,” he said.
“I asked an Army man to allow the police vehicles (including the one carrying Dera chief) to move through the cantonment area. Had their people come to know about our movement, they would have reached there and firing could have taken place,” the police officer revealed.
“As we were about to proceed towards the cantonment area, the Dera chief’s private commandos forcibly clung to the police vehicle. They were again thrashed and taken into custody.”
It was a tense cat-and-mouse game until Ram Rahim was inside the special chopper that was to take him to the Rohtak hail.
“The Baba’s men were clueless for over half an hour as to where he had been taken,” Mr Rao remarked. “We came to know about the escape plan when the red bag was demanded. Secondly, they were trying to gain time. Thirdly why men in 70 vehicles were standing?”
Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs
Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.
“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.
This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.
According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.
Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara
Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.
The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.
“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.
Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.
With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.
Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.
Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.
However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.
The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.
The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.