A mammoth exercise to carry out “sanitisation” of the sprawling Dera Sacha Sauda sect headquarters was underway on Friday with security forces and various government departments coordinating closely amid tight security.
The entire sanitisation process will be videographed and would be overseen by retired District and Sessions Judge, A K S Pawar, who was appointed as Court Commissioner by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday.
“A large number of vehicles including police buses and paramilitary vehicles, Quick Reaction Team vehicles, bomb disposal squad and anti-sabotage team vehicles carrying cops and paramilitary personnel and vehicles of the district administration carrying officials drawn from various government departments made their way inside the Dera premises in the morning,” officials said.
Besides, some fire tenders, heavy earth moving machines and tractors was also been pressed into service for the sanitisation exercise.
The Dera management on Friday said it would cooperate in the sanitisation process.
“Today the sanitisation process has begun. We have always followed law. We will extend all cooperation in carrying out this (sanitisation) exercise by the government and appeal to all to maintain peace and calm,” Dera chairperson Vipassana Insan said.
Court Commissioner Pawar arrived in Sirsa on Thursday and held a meeting with top officials of the civil and police administration including the paramilitary to take stock of things before the process was to be undertaken.
The premises of the Dera, whose chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was jailed in rape case, is spread over nearly 800 acres and houses educational institutions, markets, hospital, stadium and recreational areas.
DGP Sandhu had said earlier that the sanitisation process would be out of bounds for the media.
Duty magistrates, executive magistrates and revenue officials are also part of the exercise.
As many as 16 ‘nakas’ have been set up near the Dera. A total of 41 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in Sirsa district.
Policemen of the anti-bomb disposal squad and 40 commandos of Special Weapons and Tactics team and dog squad would also be deployed for the sanitisation process.
Among the central forces, CRPF, Sashastra Seema Bal, Rapid Action Force and BSF are deployed in Sirsa.
Inspector general of police, Hisar, Amitabh Dhillon, Sirsa SP Ashwin Shenvi and Deputy Commissioner Prabhjot Singh had earlier checked all check-posts installed by the security forces.
The police and the Dera management have maintained that licensed weapons have been deposited by most Dera followers at Sirsa with the police authorities.
Ram Rahim was later sentenced to 20 years in prison in the rape case.
The Haryana government had filed a plea on Friday seeking “permission to hold sanitisation process of the Dera headquarter here under “judicial supervision”, following the incarceration of the sect chief.
The HC earlier this week appointed a court commissioner for the purpose. A report of the whole sanitisation process will be submitted to the High Court by the court commissioner, with a copy to be given to the state government.