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Amarinder wants Dera to pay for troops, helps Cong one-up BJP on law & order

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 29 August 2017, 17:26 IST
( Anil Dayal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and the subsequent violence came as a perfect opportunity for Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to show what a tough administrator he is.

He not only ensured peace in his state, he also made a statement by personally thanking some of the police personnel who were posted in the areas were violence was expected.

Now he has set the tone for the Congress to take on the BJP on the issue of law and order as the peace in Punjab was in sharp contrast to the utter chaos in Haryana due to the ineptitude of the Manohar Lal Khattar government in the state.

If Khattar and other BJP leaders stand accused of pandering to the controversial godman, Captain has displayed a completely no-nonsense approach.

First, he refused to pay compensation to the Dera followers who died in police following. Now he has gone a step further. Captain now wants Dera Sacha Sauda to pay for the expenditure incurred on the deployment of central armed forces during the period of disturbance faced by his state.

Punjab is likely to approach the Punjab and Haryana Court on the issue. The expenditure incurred on the deployment of central forces is reportedly being pegged between Rs 150 crore and Rs 200 crore.

This claim is in addition to the loss of property both public as well as private during the violence that had followed the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Friday. The claim for the properties is to be filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Amarinder met Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore on Monday evening and briefed him of the 'sporadic' incidents of arson and looting in the state. He also told the Governor about the preventive arrests made.

Saying that the quantum of loss would be available once a list of properties damaged in the violence is compiled by the authorities concerned, he pointed that the central government would bill the state for the troops deployed which in turn would submit the same to the High Court for necessary action.

The list of properties damaged in the sporadic violence is being compiled by the concerned district administrations. He said that of the 32 people killed in police firing in Panchkula on Friday, 12 were from Punjab and their cremations had been carried out peacefully. 

The Punjab government has made it clear that there is no question giving compensation to the kin of the deceased as they were part of the mob. “We can still consider cases on merit,” a government spokesperson said.

Amarinder’s approach

Amarinder has reacted cautiously to the sentencing of the Dera chief saying that it is not a thing to be either welcomed or rejected. It is a judicial decision which everyone has to accept. He has been saying that he is only interested in ensuring law and order in Punjab. The Dera chief has a very large following in Punjab, particularly the Malwa region.

But his government’s stand that Dera should pay for the deployment of Central forces makes it clear that he is no mood to appease the cult.

Amarinder has been playing up how peace was ensured in his state with the help of the apparatus available. He has said that he never dubbed Haryana government a failure but has only said that allowing so many people to gather in one place was a mistake. Adequate precautions should have been taken to prevent such congregation of thousands of men, women and children ahead of the judgment on Friday.

He has been claiming that there was no firing, no lathicharge or any major incident of arson and looting in Punjab. However, 52 minor incidents of arson and looting were reported from different parts of the state and most of the miscreants involved in these incidents have been arrested. There have been 60 preventive arrests in the state.

He has related that in order to control the situation and prevent a law and order breakdown in the wake of the Panchkula court verdict on Friday, the Punjab administration had placed 10 cities under curfew on the afternoon in southern Punjab that houses a large number of Dera supporters. This had been done as a matter of 'abundant' precaution.

The curfew has been lifted in almost all cities although constant surveillance and monitoring of the situation continues.

Amarinder informed the Governor that the Army was called out on the night of August 25 and the personnel assisted the civil administration in enforcing the curfew effectively. He personally visited some of the sensitive areas like Zirakpur, Banur, Mohali, Kharar, Mansa, Maur, Bathinda, Balluana and Malout, and met not only the general public but also the personnel of Punjab Police and central armed forces deployed at these places.

Amarinder said, “Subsequent to dispersal of crowd from Panchkula on Friday afternoon, the Mohali administration ensured safe transportation of Dera followers to their homes without creating any problem on the roads. We carried out major exercise in transporting people back to their villages in over 600 trucks and buses with police escorts.” A similar exercise was carried out for all those who arrived at Bathinda from Sirsa on the border of Haryana and Punjab on Monday.

The curbs on the mobile data services in Punjab were lifted on Tuesday while the decision to open schools and colleges in sensitive districts have been left to the respective deputy commissioners.

First published: 29 August 2017, 17:26 IST
 
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