Peace prevails in Haryana, Punjab; security still on alert

Official today gave information that affected areas in Haryana and Punjab were now peaceful as security forces remained on high alert.

Curfew was withdrawn in Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh, which saw the maximum violence on Friday after the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape and sexual exploitation case by the CBI special court. Curfew was withdrawn in Kaithal town of Haryana while it was relaxed in Sirsa, 260 km from here.

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On the other hand the number of people killed in violence has now risen to 36. As many as 30 persons died in Panchkula and six were killed in Sirsa town. Over 250 people were injured in the violence that also left properties worth crores of rupees damaged.

The DSS headquarters near Sirsa is still surrounded by the Army and paramilitary forces and appeals are being made to Dera followers to vacate the 800-acre sprawling complex. Authorities on Saturday got the sect complexes across Haryana (except Sirsa) vacated. Some of the complexes were sealed.

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Security forces recovered sticks, rods and other materials to make petrol bombs in search operations in the complexes. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said all 98 campuses of the sect were searched and sanitised.

An uneasy calm prevailed in Punjab and Haryana on Saturday as the Army and paramilitary forces continued to patrol several places across the two states throughout the night. CBI special judge Jagdeep Singh on August 25 held the Dera sect leader, who has lakhs of followers mainly in Punjab and Haryana, guilty of raping and sexually exploiting two female disciples in 2002.

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