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?”
Pramod Sawant sworn in as 11th Goa CM
Mumbai : Vijai Sardesai from the Goa Forward Party and Sudin Dhavalikar from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, both alliance partners, have been inducted as Deputy Chief Ministers, Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik told reporters on the sidelines of the oath-taking ceremony at Raj Bhavan here.
Sawant, 45, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Mridula Sinha at a formal ceremony held at the Raj Bhavan in the early hours of Tuesday.
Apart from Sawant and the two deputy Chief Ministers, nine other MLAs, all of them who were part of the previous BJP-led coalition cabinet headed by Parrikar, were also administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor and inducted as ministers in the state cabinet.
The Chief Minister said portfolios would be allotted to his ministers within eight days.
Sawant succeeds former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who died on Sunday due to complications arising from advanced pancreatic cancer.
The new Chief Minister heads a coalition government which has the support of 12 MLAs from the BJP, three each from the Goa Forward and MGP, and two independent MLAs, taking the tally of the treasury benches to 20 in the 36-member state legislative assembly.
“Parrikar is not among us now and this responsibility has been given collectively to me by my party, alliance partners and independent MLAs. This is a big responsibility,” Sawant told reporters soon after he was sworn in.
“I am committed to the development of Goa and to take forward the teachings of former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar with a positive outlook,” Sawant also said, adding that he would focus on completing all infrastructure related projects started by his predecessor.
He was sworn in after a marathon session of hectic negotiations anchored by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and BJP national president Amit Shah, who over a series of meetings, spanning more than 24 hours, with legislators from regional parties and independent MLAs forged a coalition together.
2008 Mumbai attacks one of the ‘most notorious’ terrorist attacks: China
Mumbai/Beijing: In a rare acknowledgment, China described the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by Pakistan-based LeT terror outfit as one of “the most notorious terrorist attacks”.
In a white paper on its massive crackdown against terrorists in the restive Xianjiang province, China said the global spread of terrorism and extremism over the years had inflicted agony on humanity.
The paper described the Mumbai terror attacks as one of “the most notorious terrorist attacks”, adding that the “global spread of terrorism and extremism over the years has inflicted agony on humanity”.
The release of the paper, “The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang”, interestingly coincided with Pakistan foreign minister’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s visit to China.
Throughout the world, terrorism and extremism gravely threaten peace and development, and endanger the life and property of individuals, said the white paper released by China’s State Council Information Office.
The paper came days after China for the fourth time blocked a bid in the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to designate Pakistan-based chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist” by putting a technical hold on the proposal, a move India termed as disappointing.
The JeM has claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack that left 40 CRPF personnel dead and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.
“Striking aggressively at terrorism and furthering the de-radicalisation effort is the common responsibility of the international community and essential to the protection of human rights,” it said.
China opposes all forms of terrorism and extremism, and opposes double standards on fighting terrorism, said the white paper, adding that Beijing opposes linking terrorism and extremism with specific countries, ethnic groups or religions.
China advocates comprehensive measures to address both the symptoms and the root causes, with the dual purposes of striking at terrorist activities and eliminating poverty, so that there will be no room for terrorism to breed, it said.
Pak did not do a favour by returning Abhinandan, says Sitharaman
Mumbai: Pakistan has shown the statements of such people and opposition leaders on their television channels, increasing TRP, the minister said.
“It is these people who did not want (the country) to buy Rafale, because arrival of these will give strength to our forces,” she said, addressing a gathering in Kolkata on ‘Ensuring India’s National Security’ organised by the Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation.
India has given a message to the world after the Balakot air strike by not bowing to Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail, the minister said.
On February 26, the IAF conduct air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot targeting Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps. The strikes came after a suicide bomber from the terror group on February 14 rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus, killing 40 personnel, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Modi did what former prime minister Manmohan Singh did not do after the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008, possibly because of Pakistan’s continued propaganda that “it is a nuclear power like India, and we should not forget that before doing anything against them”, she said.
“‘Chowkidar’ gave Pakistan the right answer,” she said.
The defence minister said though there is no direct war being waged between India and Pakistan, there were ceasefire violations by the neighbouring country, and non-state actors with the support of Pakistan, indulge in attacks like that in Pulwama.
Many were given training for suicide attacks at Balakot. There was intelligence on this development and that there will be many more Pulwama-like attacks in the coming days, she said.
“So, not to wage war but to neutralise the terrorists at their training camps. They were eliminated (at Balakot),” she said, adding, India did what Pakistan ought to have done.
Sitharaman said Pakistan claims it is a victim of terrorism, but itself trains and sends them to India.
“Why Pakistan does not take action against terrors groups and terrorists being nurtured and trained on its soil if it is a victim?” she asked.
The minister said that after the Pulwama attack, evidence was given to Pakistan, but it did not act.
Noting that the Jaish-e-Mohammed itself claimed responsibility for the strike, she said, “What more proof does it (Pakistan) want?”