Asserting that there was complete peace in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday said he would not tolerate any violence and the state would continue to be on vigil till the sentencing of Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim is over on Monday.
Addressing the media, he again blamed the Haryana government for allowing more than a lakh of Dera followers to gather in Panchkula, which he said was the main reason for the violence that claimed 31 lives and left over 250 others injured.
“I will not allow any violence by any sect in Punjab. We want peace, and as long as I am here there is no question of any violence. Hopefully there will be peace after the sentencing is over,” he said.
Though “everything is peaceful” in Punjab, Singh said: “We are not going to take anything lightly. All precautions are in place and will remain in place till sentencing is done. There was no firing or lathi-charge in Punjab.”
Giving a briefing on the overall situation in the state, the Chief Minister said the entire police force and civil administration was on the streets on Friday to maintain peace. “The Chief Secretary and others were on the road all the time. Everyone was on their toes,” he said.
Singh said the police and civil administration had been alerted from August 15-16. “We started working from then. I had talked to the Union Home Minister. The state Home Secretary spoke with the Union Home Secretary and the BJP was also involved. I had also talked to the Army commander. I had asked for 250 companies of CRPF,” he said.
The Chief Minister said of the 31 people dead, seven belonged to Punjab and they died in violence in Panchkula, while 42 from the state were injured. “By and large the state was free from violence except for a few incidents of glasses being shattered and furniture being damaged.”
There was an attempt at violence in Malout police station, but that was also checked. “The police has filed an FIR in the incident. Everyone was alert in Punjab and nowhere anything happened.”
“I must congratulate the forces, officers and people, especially the youth of the state, for maintaining calm.”
Singh said police have searched 98 Deras, and axes and lathis were recovered and 39 cases have been registered in Punjab.
Asked about the handling of the situation by his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar, Singh said he would not like to make any personal comment about the Chief Minister. “It is for Mr. Khattar and his leadership to say. I am only interested in peace in my state. Neither Khattar talked to me nor did I talk to him.”
But he went on to add that he will repeat what he had said on Friday. “The mistake was made by allowing people to gather. Against 1.5 lakh people what can 200 policemen do? Naturally the result is violence and police did fire and people would be killed. I think they should have prevented people from gathering.”