Khattar refuses to learn from the past: Haryana stands unraveled again thanks to Ram Rahim verdict
The Haryana government under Manohar Lal Khattar seems to have learned nothing from its previous experiences. And as a result, not only Haryana, but even the neighbouring states have been pushed to the brink of an emergency.
This is the third time that the Khattar administration has failed to rise to the occasion and now stands unraveled. This time the trigger is the verdict in a rape case involving a godman and the head of the politically influential Dera Sacha Sauda of Sirsa – Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
With public transport badly hit, a complete shut down of both commercial and government establishments, suspended internet connectivity and endless trouble for the citizens besides the Army being called out to Panchkula and Sirsa, normal functioning stands paralysed.
The worst affected is Panchkula where thousands of followers or 'Premis' of been camping despite Section 144 having been imposed.
Including this time, there have been two other occasions in Haryana government's three years of existence that the state government has failed.
The first was at Barwala in Hisar where another godman Rampal was at the centre of controversy.
Just like in the present case at Panchkula, the administration had allowed the followers of Rampal to gather at his Satlok Ashram by the thousands. And when it came to the point of arresting the godman following a court issuing non-bailable warrants against him in 2014 in a case of alleged murder, there was a major confrontation between his followers and the police.
It took the police 14 days to take him into custody following the death of six people including five women. Reports say that the security agencies raised a bill of Rs 26 crore while trying to arrest the godman.
The second episode was the Jat agitation for reservation in educational institutions and government services in February 2016. For three days, Haryana had burnt with large-scale arson and violence that saw 30 people losing their lives.
At that time also, the government turned a blind eye to the build up to the agitation. Things soon went out of hand as the administration on the ground stood paralysed. It was the para military forces and the Army that had to bring about order at various places.
Observers say that the vitriolic statements from the BJP MP at Kurukshetra, Raj Kumar Saini, on one side and the paralysis of the administration on the other led to the devastation of property and deaths of 30 people. This chaos also caused immense damage to the social fabric of the state that stands polarised on the caste lines even today.
The state government has been shamed time and again by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the issue of the alleged gang rapes at Murthal during the height of the Jat agitation and nothing concrete has come out in the investigations till now.
No damage control
On this occasion too, it is only after a flak from the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the Haryana administration got down to the job and that too at the eleventh hour.
The courts reportedly came down heavily on the state government saying that there has been a 'complete collusion' between the state government and the people who have moved into Panchkula.
The question being asked is that despite Section 144, that prohibits the gathering of five or more persons at one place, being imposed in the city over the last four days – how did thousands of people manage to gather in the city?
The court was reportedly displeased to hear from the advocate general of Haryana on Thursday that there had been a clerical error in the order passed for the implementation of Section 144. An amended order was passed only on Thursday.
The court told the Haryana administration that no preventive measure was visible on the ground and reminded them how the same thing had happened during the Jat agitation as well. The court made it clear that it did not want a repeat of what had happened during the Jat agitation.
It was late on Thursday that the state government called in the Army at Panchkula and also Sirsa where the Dera headquarters are located.
The residents of Panchkula stand a harried lot. Over the last two days, they have been procuring and storing the essentials at their homes. Their movements stand hampered because of frequent check points at various places.
“It all started on Tuesday when groups of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's followers started arriving in public transport, including autos. Over the next couple of days, they were stopped outside the city limits but they managed to reach the city on foot. The police checked their baggage but did not stop them from moving in. There was a lot of confusion among the police personnel, as well on the ground. It was only on late Thursday that the police and the para military forces started containing them at the places where they were present. Those on the periphery were not allowed to enter the city and those in various sectors were asked to stay put. But it is too little and too late,” pointed out a resident of Panchkula.
The local residents are asking whether Section 144 is imposed on the Dera followers or the local residents who are facing problems in even reaching out to their relatives admitted in the hospitals. They are also pointing to the thousands of people defecating in the open across the place that has raised a stink across the city.
“It is nothing but plain political considerations of the Khattar government that has landed us in this peril. Everyone knows that the Dera had openly come out in support of the BJP in the last Assembly polls. The visits of the top BJP leaders to the Dera after the party's victory are not hidden from anyone. Perhaps this is the reason the government went very slow in tackling the infiltration by the Dera activists. The story on the Punjab side of the border has been quite different,” said a Panchkula resident living just on the edge of Zirakpur that falls in Punjab.
Edited by Jhinuk Sen