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‘We’re here for service, will go back after seeing Pitaji on Aug 25’, say Dera followers assembled in Panchkula

‘We’re here for service, will go back after seeing Pitaji on Aug 25’, say Dera followers assembled in Panchkula

AHEAD OF the expected verdict in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, thousands of his followers are assembling at the Sector 23 Naam Charcha Ghar, an assembly hall for the followers. Naam Charcha Ghar in Sector 23 is situated around 500 metres from Chandimandir police station and Gurdwara Nada Sahib. Around 20,000 followers have already entered the city, a police officer said on condition of anonymity.

The Panchkula police and district administration, which claim they are discouraging the followers from arriving here, are nonetheless not preventing people from gathering. Despite the heavy presence of police and paramilitary troops in the city, there are restrictions on movement only in and around the district courts. Sources in the district administration said, “Many followers were stopped at Raipurrani, Barwala and other parts of Panchkula rural areas.” But on Tuesday morning, the followers arrived in tractor-trolleys, roadways buses and personal vehicles. They pitched their tents around the Naam Charcha Ghar. A langar is operational, and vehicles whose occupants cannot identify themselves as Dera followers are not allowed beyond a certain point.

Men, women and children have started clearing vacant land around the Nam Charcha Ghar, cutting the tall grass and bushes, so that there is more room for camping. More than a dozen loudspeakers were installed for making announcements. And to ensure that the mobile phones remain functional, a special electric charger board with a dozen points was installed near the Ghar.

Those in charge of the arrangements made light of the sudden large assembly at this Panchkula Nam Charcha Ghar. “We have assembled here only for service. Look at the followers! They are cutting the grass and participating in Swachhta Abhiyan. They are all from neighbouring areas and will return to their homes tonight.” But the followers, who had come from faraway places of Haryana and Punjab, showed every sign of staying on.

“We came from Kaithal and will only return after seeing Pitaji (the honorific by which followers refer to Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh) on August 25. We were informed that Pitaji will come here on August 25,” said a woman sitting along with six others women in a trolley. Daljeet Singh, another Dera follower, who was on guard duty to stop non-Dera vehicles, said, “We are here only for service. But if something wrong happens [in court on Friday], we will react.”

The followers continued to arrive at the Panchkula Assembly late into the evening on Tuesday. In sectors 23, 24 and 25, the Dera followers have also occupied several public parks, installing temporary sheets to protect themselves from the rain. A police officer said the Dera followers tried to enter Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Sector 3 but they were not allowed.

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