Hitting out on the lapses by the government of Punjab and Haryana, the High Court lashed at Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for allowing the state burn for their political gains, a day after Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s conviction in a rape case by Panchkula court let to violent clashes across Haryana.
In the wide spread clashes in Haryana and Punjab claimed 30 lives and had left more than 200 people injured. The army, with a joint operation with the police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel, stormed into the Dera headquarters Sirsa today to clear the area of the sect’s cadres.
Manohar Lal Khattar is believed to have had good relations with Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Before Khattar became the chief minister in 2014, Rahim had openly rooted for him and promised him support from Dera followers.
Hence, his apparent reluctance to take any stern action against Dera supporters, who were key to his coming to power, cannot be denied.
Even before the verdict came out on Friday, there were serious questions raised over the ability of the police to rein in Dera protesters, who had gathered in large numbers and refused to leave Panchkula, despite the imposition of Section 144 there that prevents the assembly of five or more people.
BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj in a shocking remark yesterday had defended Rahim even after the CBI Special Court verdict in Panchkula convicted him in a 15-year-old rape case. Maharaj had said, “I respect the judiciary but I want to say that crores of people are supporting Ram Rahim, and only one person is complaining about him. Is one person right or are crores of people right?”
Despite Khattar’s evident ham-handedness in dealing with the situation, it has been learned from sources the BJP has thrown its weight behind the under-fire chief minister, saying that there is no question of replacing him in the wake of the violence that followed the verdict against the Dera chief.
CONGRESS DEMANDS KHATTAR’s RESIGNATION
Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded Manohar Lal Khattar’s resignation. Tweeting from its official account, the party was quoted as saying, “@PMOIndia must put the interest and safety of Indians before his party’s interests. @mlkhattar must resign”.
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala tweeted, “Reckless violence, deaths, and destruction in Haryana prove the complete breakdown of law and order. Time for CM Haryana to own responsibility and quit (sic).”
Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi also condemned the “rampage and lawlessness” in Haryana and urged people to restore peace and tranquillity. Former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda also appealed for peace but said the government should have been prepared.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has said that Khattar should be sacked if he doesn’t resign taking responsibility for the violence and a complete breakdown of the law and order situation in the state.
“Ultimately it is the Chief Minister and his cabinet who are responsible for law and order in their state. It is a complete failure of the Khattar government and he should be sacked,” Tharoor said.
“Where was Haryana government? How could they allow people to gather? Everybody could see that they were preparing for violence. Why didn’t the Haryana government impose Section 144 (of the CrPC) and control the situation? The management failed and the buck has to stop somewhere. Enough is enough,” Tharoor said.