Facing flak over failure to check violence by Dera Sacha Sauda followers, Haryana government today suspended the Deputy Commissioner of Police of Panchkula, alleging that a "defective" order by him allowed the crowd build-up in the district.
"Yes there was a lapse and that why we have suspended DCP Panchkula," Haryana Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Ram Niwas said, adding that the prohibitory order issued by the officer only barred carrying of weapons and not a gathering of five or more persons.
An official order today said that IPS officer Ashok Kumar, DCP Panchkula, has been put under suspension with immediate effect.
At least 29 people were killed and 250 injured in Panchkula after frenzied Dera followers went on a rampage following the rape conviction of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by a special CBI court yesterday.
"It was because of the defective prohibitory orders issued under Section 144 by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Panchkula) that a large number of Dera followers managed to come to Panchkula," Niwas said.
He was asked why the BJP government led by Manohar Singh Khattar allowed the "build-up" of Dera followers in Panchkula when there was apprehension that things could spiral out of control if the court verdict comes against Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a 2002 rape case.
He said the order issued under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) by the DCP only prohibited people from carrying weapons and remained silent on assembly of five or more persons. "It did not mention prohibiting gathering of five or more persons," Niwas said.
Dera followers came to Panchkula in droves to have glimpse of the Dera chief, referred to as 'Pitaji' (father) by them, despite the prohibitory orders. "When I visited Panchkula on August 24, I inquired that why Dera followers have been allowed in large numbers in Panchkula. I was told that there was no mention of prohibiting assembly of five or more people in the Section 144 order and that is why security personnel were unable to stop Dera followers from coming to Panchkula. It was a defective order issued by Panchkula DCP," said Niwas. By that time, a large number of Dera followers had already arrived, said Niwas.