Searches at Sirsa dera headquarters end on third day

Authorities in Haryana conducted searches at the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters near Sirsa town in the state for the third consecutive day on Sunday, with the whole operation finally ending in the evening, official sources said.

Security forces were present in strength at the Dera premises for the searches even as curfew imposed in villages around the premises was relaxed for a few hours on Sunday afternoon.

Officials said Court Commissioner A.K. Pawar — a retired District and Sessions Judge appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 5 to supervise the search operation at the sprawling 700-acre Dera headquarters — was holding a meeting with civil and police officers to assess the progress and decide on the future course of action.

Informed sources said the Court Commissioner will submit a report to the High Court later.

The local administration had banned mobile Internet services, including SMSes, in Sirsa district till September 10.

Some former Dera followers claimed nothing worthwhile was found during the search operation that began on Friday and alleged that the Dera management could have carted away incriminating evidence and other things as the searches at the premises were delayed.

The sources said that JCBs and over 20 tractors requisitioned for the searches were not used for excavation on the premises.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar told media persons in Fatehabad town that there was “no delay” on part of his government in carrying out searches.

He said the government was awaiting the court orders to conduct the searches.

Two secret tunnels and an illegal factory to make explosives were unearthed on the premises on Saturday. Haryana government spokesman Satish Mishra said a case had been registered against the Dera management on this count.

Other irregularities found in the functioning of a campus hospital included unauthorised operation of a skin bank, irregularities in conduct of pregnancy tests and sending of bodies to other hospitals.

The sources said search teams found hundreds of pairs of shoes, designer clothes and colourful caps of the now-jailed Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

A few computers, a luxury sport utility vehicle and currency notes were seized. The search teams also found fancy, modified and vintage cars, used by the disgraced sect chief, inside the premises.

Ram Rahim was convicted by a CBI court in Panchkula town adjoining Chandigarh on August 25 for the rape of two female disciples in 1999.

He was sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment and is lodged at the district jail at Sunaria near Rohtak.

His conviction led to violence in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana, leaving 38 people dead and 264 injured. Isolated incidents of violence were also reported from Delhi and several other places in Punjab.

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