Police have inputs of about over 5,000 people in Sirsa campus being ready with petrol bombs, swords and rifles to retaliate in case of a forced evacuation
Sirsa: Markets remained shut and locals were not allowed to step out of their homes as situation grew tense in Haryana’s Sirsa district Saturday following the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a rape case.
Several companies of the paramilitary and Army have been deployed surrounding the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters as over 35,000 supporters of the self-styled godman, including women and children, continue to remain inside the campus.
Barricades and checkpoints have been placed every few kilometers across the district to check movement of potential arsonists.
Police sources said that even though the Army will not march towards the dera headquarters to force evacuation till further orders, local police have been asked to engage with the people inside, asking them to leave the premises voluntarily.
The police also have inputs about over 5,000 people being ready with petrol bombs, axes, swords, rifles, etc. to retaliate in case of a forced evacuation. The police on Saturday also seized two AK-47 rifles, which were to reach the dera headquarters.
“We have seized AK-47 rifles and have initiated a probe into the matter. While the situation remains tense, it is under control. We are waiting for the people holed up inside the dera to leave and have requested them to not resort to violence,” said Ashwin Shanwi, SSP Sirsa.
Sources said that the people who wish to leave the dera were not being allowed to step out as many supporters planned to use them as a human shield in case the Army barged in.
“We have received such inputs but they are unverified. We were also told that some people have called their relatives from inside the dera, complaining that they have been locked in,” a police officer said.
The locals said they always feared a situation like this, but never knew that it would escalate to this level. “Whenever dera followers visit, there is a law and order situation but we never thought that our city will be turned into a cantonment,” a local said.
“We have never seen so many Army trucks and personnel from the paramilitary together at one place. Our families are scared to step out. God knows how many people will die once the Army decides to go in. What if these supporters burn down our shops and houses? They have petrol bombs and rifles. We do not accept the Haryana government to be of any help,” he added.