Dera followers’ exodus from headquarters continues

Followers of Dera Sacha Sauda

Sirsa (Har), Aug 27 : The exodus of Dera Sacha Sauda followers from the sect’s headquarters here, which began yesterday, continued today with the district administration providing buses to facilitate their departure.

A day before sentencing of Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case, the Haryana Roadways deployed over 50 buses for transporting the followers.

Women and children, who were also inside the sect’s headquarters, are leaving for their homes. District authorities are hopeful that no untoward incident would take place tomorrow after pronouncement of the quantum of punishment since the followers are vacating the premises.

However, according to the police roughly 5,000 followers are still inside the headquarters and the Army and paramilitary forces are appealing to them to vacate the place.

“The district administration is providing over 50 Haryana Roadways buses to Dera followers so that they can go home,” a senior official said.

Children studying in the Shah Satnam Schools, which are on the campus, are also being taken to their homes by their parents. So far, around 100 students have been taken out of the premises by their parents, a senior police official said.

The police are also making a record– noting down names, phone numbers and addresses– of the followers who are vacating the premises or are willing to leave.

There was no report of fresh violence today in and around the Dera headquarters, the police official said, adding curfew continues to be imposed in the area.

Police have detained over a dozen Dera followers. Six people were killed and around 60 were injured in Sirsa during the violence following the conviction of the Dera head by a special CBI court in Panchkula on Friday.

As the pronouncement of sentence is scheduled tomorrow, security has been beefed up in the area.

The Dera headquarters are spread over in nearly 1,000 acres and is a township on its own, with schools, sports village, hospital and cinema hall inside it.

The district administration had today relaxed the curfew for five hours between 6 am to 11 am in and around the headquarters. The restrictions were imposed on August 24.

Yesterday, the headquarters witnessed a steady outflow of its followers who had been camping there in large numbers.

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