A war of words has broken out between the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana who are both claiming credit and blaming the other side over the recent handling of the violence by Dera Sacha Sauda sect followers.
Terming it a “desperate and futile bid to wriggle out of his own responsibility in the matter”, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday flayed his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar for blaming Punjab for the violence that followed the conviction of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Khattar, in a recent TV interview, said the Punjab government failed to stop thousands of Dera followers who came to Panchkula for the August 25 verdict in the rape case against sect chief.
He also said the armed Punjab policemen, who accompanied the sect chief illegally for the court hearing, were arrested as a conspiracy to help Ram Rahim escape after the verdict unfolded.
Dubbing Khattar’s charges against the Punjab government as ludicrous, Amarinder Singh said his Haryana counterpart was trying desperately to cover up his own government’s failure in preventing the carnage in the wake of the verdict against Ram Rahim.
“Khattar’s despair was evident from the fact that even after suspending five of their own police personnel over the alleged conspiracy to whisk Ram Rahim away post the judgement, he was now trying to fix responsibility for the entire affair on Punjab Police,” the Punjab Chief Minister said in a hard-hitting statement here.
“Nothing could be more ridiculous than this. Why did his government suspend the five Haryana cops in the matter if they were not guilty,” Amarinder Singh, who heads the Congress government in Punjab, asked the Chief Minister of the Bhartiya Janata Party-ruled neighbouring state.
Amarinder Singh also lashed out at Khattar for blaming Punjab over the accumulation of over one lakh Dera followers in Panchkula.
“The death count, and the number of people injured in the violence that erupted in Panchkula after the verdict, clearly shows that the bulk of the followers gathered there were from Haryana. How could the Punjab government have been expected to control entry into Haryana?” he said.
“Haryana alone was responsible for maintaining law and order in Panchkula and failed to prevent aggregation of people in the area despite intelligence reports warning of an adverse fallout of the court judgement,” he said, assailing Khattar’s attempt to divert public attention from his government’s “catastrophic failure in the matter”.
“Khattar seems to have either forgotten or has conveniently chosen to ignore the fact that not only did Punjab witness only a few sporadic and minor incidents but reported no loss of life in the fallout of the Panchkula bloodshed.
“If the majority of the followers gathered in the town had been from Punjab the situation in this state would have been much worse,” he added.
Amarinder Singh also noted that even the judiciary has blamed the Haryana government for allowing the situation to escalate out of control.
He urged Khattar to refrain from playing dirty politics over the issue which had led to huge loss of life and property.