- Manohar Lal Khattar said anti-social elements started trouble
- The Home Ministry is less than impressed with Mr Khattar's handling
- The Congress has demanded Chief Minister Khattar quit
Mr Khattar said criminals, who had infiltrated the crowd of Dera Sacha Sauda followers, violated the law and pledged to punish them.
"The Chief Minister said some anti-social elements got mixed up with the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda after the delivery of the verdict by the CBI court in the case involving the Dera chief, resorted to violence and disrupted the peace," a statement issued by Mr Khattar's office late on Friday evening said.
"Strict action is being taken against these persons. No one is above the law and strict action will be taken against anyone who tries to take the law into his hands," the statement said, quoting the Chief Minister.
For hours yesterday, Dera chief Ram Rahim's supporters had rampaged across Panchkula burning cars, motorcycles and damaging other public property after a court convicted their flamboyant spiritual guru for raping two followers at the headquarters of the sect in Sirsa town in 2002.
Police personnel deployed in riot gear initially watched helplessly but finally gave it back; starting with firing tear gas shells, pellet guns and finally, with firearms with regular ammunition. Haryana's police chief BS Sandhu later told reporters they had not been able to identify the people who had lost their lives yet.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said the sect could hold the state at ransom, "solely because the BJP government in the state is in cahoots with it". The Congress has demanded Chief Minister Khattar quit for his repeated failure to deal with law and order problems in the state.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court - that has been reviewing the security situation in the district - too had faulted the administration. It had pointed that it was a mistake to let tens of thousands of Dera followers congregate near the court where the verdict in the Dera chief's rape case was to be pronounced.
The Union Home Ministry in Delhi too is less than impressed with Mr Khattar's handling. After security forces struggled to restore peace in Haryana, Home Minister Rajnath Singh recalled his conversation with the Chief Minister, pointing that he had been assured that the state government had taken all precautionary measures. Chief Minister Khattar had made the same point in a public appeal for peace that he had issued early on Friday.