The Dera riots: Who's at fault for the violent rampage?
Thirty people have been killed and 250 injured in violence that broke out after Guru Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of sexual assault. After the verdict, Singh's supporters began pelting stones and damaging public property. Security personnel were forced to use water cannons and open fire to contain the situation. Why did the government fail to act in a situation that was already anticipated?
CM Khattar admits lapses in handling riots
Haryana CM ML Khattar, former RSS pracharak with no prior administration experience, has admitted to lapses in handling the riots. He said the government had evicted Dera supporters before the verdict, but the huge mobs got out of hand. He gave assurances that the guilty have been identified and will be punished. Further, the state government will assess the situation and pay for damages.
Did the Khattar government learn nothing from last year's violence?
Just like this time, warnings of possibilities of demonstrations turning violent were ignored during the Jat agitations last year. DGP (Law and Order) Punjab warned Haryana Police that Dera followers were storing inflammable material and sharp instruments, but warnings were ignored. Sources say the state got its first warning a week ahead of the violence.
The Home Ministry didn't act on time either
Despite heavy security deployment and imposition of Section 144, which disallows congregation, crowds surged. Home Minister Rajnath Singh failed to review the situation despite having information on Thursday. Today, he has decided to review the situation and has deployed 20,000-strong paramilitary forces to tense areas in Punjab and Haryana. Curfew has been imposed. The government has done too little too late.
BJP's soft corner for Ram Rahim might have influenced reaction
Singh played an important role in BJP winning 2014 Haryana elections. He openly supported BJP and urged his supporters to do the same; candidates came to seek blessings. PM Narendra Modi too has hailed Singh's contribution to Swachh Bharat . This mutual admiration society was likely responsible for Singh being flown to safety even as riots erupted and BJP leaders stayed mum.
Finally, the HC had to intervene
The administration's failure eventually led to Haryana and Punjab HC's intervention. They blamed the government for "clerical error" in implementing Section 144. Following rebuke, the order was modified from barring entry of people "moving with weapons" to "assembly of five or more persons." The HC also rapped the Centre for inadequate provision of paramilitary forces. With some sensitivity, the riots could have been prevented.