Curfew in Sirsa relaxed; sect HQ remains tense
Chandigarh : Authorities in Haryana's Sirsa relaxed curfew in the town limits on Tuesday although the area around the Dera Sacha Sauda sect headquarters on the outskirts remained tense.
The curfew relaxation, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., was announced in view of no incident being reported from Sirsa, 260 km from here, in the past 24 hours.
"The curfew has been relaxed to allow people to buy things of daily use," Special Commissioner V. Umashankar said.
The curfew restrictions, however, continued near the sect headquarters, about eight kilometre from the town.
Security forces, including the Army, paramilitary and Haryana Police, continued to be stationed around the 700-acre sprawling Dera headquarters campus.
Officials said the campus still has around 15,000 people inside.
While 10,000-12,000 people live inside the campus -- which is a mini-town in itself with houses, schools, colleges, hospitals, stadium and other infrastructure; about 2,000-3,000 Dera followers were also still inside as per estimates of the security establishment.
Security forces remained on high alert elsewhere in sensitive areas of Haryana and Punjab, where the sect has its followers and influence. However, there was no curfew in those areas.
Sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday following his conviction by a CBI special court in Panchkula on Friday on two counts of rape of female disciples in 1999.
The sentencing was done at a specially set up court inside the District Jail premises at Sunaria near Rohtak, where the sect chief has been lodged since August 25.
The disgraced self-styled godman was in tears and begged for mercy when he was sentenced by CBI judge Jagdeep Singh on August 28.
The conviction verdict had led to large-scale violence in Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh, and Sirsa in Haryana by sect followers which left 38 people dead and 264 injured.