NEW DLEHI: Fearing violence after Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s sentencing in a rape case on Monday, a village close to the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters readied itself to face angry followers with a stockpile of stones, sticks, bricks and iron rods.
Villagers in Shahpur Beghu, 500 metres from the sprawling headquarters of the Dera, said they were “fully prepared” to face violent followers of the self-styled godman who was convicted of rape on August 25.
The verdict by a special CBI court in Panckhkula led to widespread violence with at least 38 people being killed, including six in Sirsa.
Villagers in Beghu, which has a population of about 9,000, most of them non-supporters of the sect chief, fear a rerun of the violence.
Prakash Budhwar, village head of Sonaria gaon, near the jail, where DSS is currently lodged in says, “Our village will stand like a wall; if Dera supporters come near the jail. Even if the administration fails, we will not let Dera supporters come near our village. We don’t know who this Baba is.”
Though their village is just 500 metres away from the sect headquarters, police had put up barricades three kilometres away from the complex, they say.
Santosh Soni is amongst those worried for the safety of her family and neighbours.
“Before the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim on August 25, villagers had started collecting iron roads, stones, bricks and wooden sticks on their rooftops to deal with violent Dera followers if they entered their village. But they did not do so,” she said.
“We are again fully prepared and have stored weapons in case we have to deal with enraged followers,” added another villager, Amit Singh.
Villagers will use them if violent Dera followers enter the village and damage property following the pronouncement of Gurmeet’s sentence, he warned.
The Dera chief has been kept in Rohtak’s Sunaira jail. CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh is being flown to Rohtak for the sentencing.
Security has been tightened in Sirsa and curfew continues in the town.
A large number of Dera followers are laving the sect headquarters. The Haryana Roadways is providing bus facility to those supporters willing to leave the area.
Police said the situation is under control in and around Dera headquarters.