Panchkula riots: Honeypreet confesses to inciting violence
In a fresh development, Honeypreet Insan has confessed to inciting violence in Panchkula. Over 35 people were killed when Dera followers went on a rampage after the self-styled godman's conviction in two rape cases on August 25. Honeypreet had gone missing soon after and was finally taken into custody last week. She is also accused of sedition and conspiring to help Ram Rahim escape.
Days after Honeypreet was taken into custody, Dera supporters have alleged that she was the one who planned and sponsored the Panchkula violence after Ram Rahim's conviction. The Dera chief's adopted daughter is already facing charges of sedition and being involved in a conspiracy to help Ram Rahim escape. If these fresh allegations are true, Honeypreet might be looking at serious legal action.
According to the five Dera supporters who are already in custody, Honeypreet had called for a meeting on August 17, a week before the August 25 hearing on Ram Rahim. Dan Singh, one of the five, alleged she had released Rs. 1.25cr to be moved to Panchkula before the hearing. Honeypreet remained absconding since that fateful day and finally surrendered on October 3.
According to Honeypreet's counsel, no. "Honeypreet was with the Dera head after his conviction. In no way she was involved in inciting violence," her counsel said. Prior to her surrender, she had also claimed innocence in an interview with a news channel. She denied she was absconding: "I was at home…I didn't even know…we were still crying about papa's conviction," said the "depressed" woman.
Not according to Honeypreet's former husband Vishwas Gupta, who says she had been living with "Ram Rahim as his de-facto wife" since 2009. Calling the adoption a "sham", Gupta claimed the Dera chief had him followed and spied on even after the divorce. In fact, Ram Rahim had included Honeypreet's name in his visitors' list, but not his wife's. Honeypreet has denied the allegations.
After her arrest, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar accused Punjab Police of keeping her safe for 40 days after the violence. "Dal mein kuch kala to hai," he said. In response, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh asked Khattar to probe "his own officials' role".
After the riots, reports surfaced that the Dera had instructed members on unleashing violence. It reportedly even supplied bats to supporters. Cops later seized a huge cache of arms and uncovered an explosives factory in the Dera headquarters (Sirsa). Just last week, the associated 'Qurbani League' threatened to kill those speaking against Ram Rahim, including journalists, cops and former followers who 'maligned' his image.
In its list of 43 most-wanted over the Panchkula violence, Haryana Police named Honeypreet and Dera spokesperson Aditya Insan at the top. Several have already been arrested, including policemen who tried to free the 'guru'. More arrests of people related to the Dera are likely.