Security personnel conducted flag marches in sensitive areas of Punjab and Haryana following Saturday’s violence by Dera Sacha Sauda supporters protesting against the registration of a fresh murder case against chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
The flag marches, aimed at instilling confidence among the people, were staged on Sunday evening by paramilitary forces, which were deployed in Moga and other affected towns, including Ferozepur, Bathinda and Sangrur in Punjab and in Sirsa, Ambala and Fatehabad in Haryana.
Barring a minor incident of a bus being torched in Kurukshetra, Haryana, the situation in the violence-hit areas was, by and large peaceful, a senior official said on Monday.
The bus was set on fire by some miscreants at Badondi village under Ladwa police station.
Police sources said, quoting a report from Kurukshetra, that unidentified persons had put inflammatory liquid inside the bus the night before and set it ablaze. The fire was noticed after smoke and flames started billowing. The villagers informed the police, who reached the spot and later registered a case against unknown persons.
The forces and contingents of policemen in the two States maintained a tight vigil at the spots where followers of the Dera chief had set afire trains and buses and damaged public property, he said.
“Those breaking the law and indulging in any act of vandalism or joining any demonstration, which can disturb peace will be dealt with strictly.”
Meanwhile, the Railway police registered a case against unknown persons for torching three bogies of the Sutlej Express at Moga on Saturday evening.
At Bathinda, a large number of Dera activists demanded the release of the sect activists rounded up by the police in the district on Sunday.
Law to recover damages to public property from vandals soon
A day after he expressed concern over Saturday’s violence in the State by Dera sympathisers, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday said the State government was working on a legislation for recovery of damages to public property from those who indulge in such vandalism.
“We are almost ready with the draft Bill and, after taking legal opinion from the State’s Advocate-General, intend to enact a law,” Mr. Badal, who is also the President of ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, said.
Under the proposed law, anyone found damaging public property under any pretext will have to pay for the losses suffered, he said.
“An amount equivalent to the loss suffered due to such damage would be recovered from whoever is found to be responsible for it,’” said the son of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
The Deputy Chief Minister, who also holds the charge of Home Department, said in a statement here that the country had seen “an alarming trend and tendency of causing damage to public property during mass protests.”