The search and sanitisation operations in Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa will begin tomorrow. It has been learnt that a team of Haryana Police and local administration led by retired District and Sessions Judge AKS Pawar will enter the sect premises tomorrow.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court had earlier directed the government to enter the Dera HQ and conduct search operation. The court had appointed Pawar as the judicial officer and asked him to supervise the operation of Dera headquarters spread in two campuses, 600 acres and over 100 acres each. The searches were scheduled for Wednesday but were deferred till today.
The developments 13 days after the conviction of Gurmit Ram Rahim for raping two of his female followers.
A local administration official said that all necessary arrangements are in place with strict restrictions in place near the sect premises and city as well.
Around 5000 Haryana Police personnel, 40 Swat Commandos and 48 companies of central paramilitary forces have been stationed outside the sect premises. Bomb disposal and dog squads have also been stationed near the Sirsa headquarters.
The sprawling Dera headquarters houses a stadium, hospital, educational institutions, a resort, houses, markets, and other infrastructure. Huge bungalows of the sect chief (spread over nearly 100 acres) and his family members are also located inside.
Curfew in the area around the Dera premises was relaxed for one hour on Wednesday to enable people inside and outside the sect campus to buy essential items.
Dera administration chairperson Vipassana, who is a close aide of the disgraced sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, told the media on Tuesday that the Dera management was fully prepared for the security operation.
"We are cooperating with the local administration. All weapons of the Dera and individuals inside (the premises) have been deposited with the authorities. We have nothing to hide. The premises can be searched anytime," Vipassana said.
Haryana Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan informed that the state government had sought the High Court's indulgence to undertake the sanitisation drill. Authorities in Haryana have carried out sanitisation of 117 'Naam Charcha Ghars' associated with the Dera, where its followers assemble for prayers and discussions. Weapons and other objects that could be used in violence were seized from the campuses.
Ram Rahim was convicted by a CBI special court in Panchkula on August 25 for the rape of two female disciples in 1999. His conviction led to wide spread violence within hours of the verdict in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana, leaving 38 people dead and 264 injured. Isolated incidents of violence were also reported from Delhi and several other places in Punjab. He was sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment on August 28.