Dera chief questioned by Punjab Police for four hours (Lead)

December 3rd, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Dec 3 (IANS) Controversial Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh Wednesday spent over four hours at the heavily guarded Punjab Police headquarters where he was questioned in a case of his attiring himself like the 10th Sikh guru, Gobind Singh, last year.Arriving a little after noon at the police headquarters in Sector 9 amid high security in a convoy of nearly 20 vehicles, including his three black Toyota Lexus cars, jammer-fitted Ford Endeavour and several other police vehicles with gun-totting security all around him, the sect chief remained closeted inside the premises with police officials.

Traffic movement in some parts of the city 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 his arrival for questioning.

The sect chief, whose headquarter is near Sirsa in Haryana, 300 km from here, is an accused in cases of rape and murder but enjoys Z-plus category security provided by the Haryana government.

After he got free from the police questioning, the sect chief headed straight for the rally ground in Sector 25 here, where he briefly addressed over 30,000 followers who had gathered in the city Wednesday in his support.

“Guruji (the sect chief) was called here for questioning only to harass him. The same old questions about his dress and other things were asked from him. There was no new question. It is a political conspiracy. We have full faith in the judiciary and we will comply with their directions,” sect spokesman Aditya Insaan told IANS after the questioning.

He said that the sect chief was questioned by the Punjab police in this case for over 21 hours.

Punjab police officials, however, did not reveal much about the questioning.

A tight security cordon was put in place at the Punjab police headquarter here ahead of Ram Rahim Singh’s arrival for questioning in a case pertaining to hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs. Barricades blocked all traffic almost 500 metres from the complex.

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.

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.

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