Chandigarh fortified for visit of Dera sect chiefDecember 3rd, 2008 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS
Chandigarh, Dec 3 (IANS) Traffic movement was restricted, many public parking spaces were closed and 1,500 policemen patrolled Chandigarh streets Wednesday in an attempt to fortify the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana for the arrival of Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, who is a rape and murder accused but enjoys Z-plus category security.A tight security cordon was put in place at the Punjab police headquarter in Sector 9 ahead of the arrival of Ram Rahim Singh for questioning in a case pertaining to hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs. Barricades blocked all traffic almost 500 metres from the complex.
Even Punjab police employees, and those working in the Punjab mini-secretariat and other adjoining government offices were not allowed to take their vehicles to their regular parking areas. They were forced by the police to park their vehicles far from the police headquarters.
Nearly 500 armed Punjab police personnel, including gun-toting commandos, and scores of Haryana police personnel who provide security to the sect chief also swarmed the area near the Punjab police headquarters.
Since early morning, over 1,500 Chandigarh police personnel were on the roads as over 30,000 sect supporters were expected to be here in support of their sect chief. Traffic hold-ups could be seen on Madhya Marg and other roads as sect followers arrived.
“We have posted enough personnel to control things. Additional forces have been sought from Punjab and Haryana. Nearly 30,000 people are expected to come here today. We have earmarked a special rally ground in Sector 25 for the people who want to assemble here and demonstrate,” said Senior Superintendent of Police S.S. Srivastava.
The sect chief got embroiled in a controversy in April 2007 after he dressed like 10th Sikh guru Gobind Singh during a religious ceremony of the sect. The Punjab police slapped him with a case of hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community at Bathinda town, about 250 km from here.
Nearly 100,000 sect followers had brought Chandigarh to a standstill two years ago when their sect chief was forced to come here for questioning. Traffic jams and complete chaos prevailed in the city as sect followers swarmed most areas.
The Dera chief is accused of having plotted the murder of sect follower and his former manager Ranjit Singh in July 2002.
He is also an accused in the November 2001 murder of Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chandra Chhatrapati, who had written about shady activities inside the sect headquarters near Sirsa, 300 km from here.
The sect chief has also been accused by a former female follower of raping her more than once inside the headquarters of the sect.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing all three charges against the Dera chief, has already filed its chargesheet in a special CBI court in Ambala town in Haryana, about 45 km from here.
The court framed rape charges against the sect chief in September this year and the trial is on in the two cases of murder conspiracy.
The management of the sect has been refuting all these charges so far.
The sect chief was embroiled in another controversy in June this year when his armed security men fired at and killed a Sikh man who was protesting with others against his visit to a mall in Mumbai.