Aman Sood, Tribune News Service
Patiala, February 20. Punjab police personnel posted along the Punjab-Haryana border have been put on “high alert” to prevent any untoward incident in the build-up to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s personal appearance before a Bathinda court on February 22.
There is a large following of the dera in the districts along the Punjab-Haryana border and many are expected to enter Punjab for the hearing. Intelligence inputs suggest that there could be a large gathering in Bathinda outside the court complex where the dera chief is expected to appear.
“We have alerted the respective district police chiefs to ensure that the crowds remain peaceful,” Punjab Additional Director General of Police-Intelligence, HS Dhillon told The Tribune.
The case against the dera chief pertains to hurting Sikh sentiments in 2007 when he allegedly wore attire similar to that of Guru Gobind Singh. There have been several clashes between various Sikh factions and the dera followers in the past so the police does not want to take any chances.
“Whenever there is any religious gathering of the dera, we ensure that several nakas are laid on the highway to keep a strict vigil on the crowds. We will monitor the state highway from Haryana to Sangrur police limits,” said H S Bhullar, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Sangrur. “Police nakas will be in place till February 22,” Bhullar said.
In addition to Sangrur-Patiala, Bathinda, Barnala, Mansa and a couple of other districts have also been put on alert.
Another senior official confirmed that forces other districts have been summoned to reach Bathinda to put in place proper security arrangements in and around the venue of the dera chief’s stay in Bathinda.
Moreover, the Moga by-election is also set to be held on February 23. Senior leaders of the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal have been camping at Moga for the past over a week. “One minor incident can totally change the outcome of the elections, therefore security needs to be tight,” said a police officer.