Strike 3 For ML Khattar Government in Haryana But Centre Calls 'Not Out'

After violence by followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court told the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government, "You let a city like Panchkula burn for political gains."

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Strike 3 For ML Khattar Government in Haryana But Centre Calls 'Not Out'

Manohar Lal Khattar admitted to 'lapses' after the violence over the verdict against Ram Rahim.

Chandigarh: 

Highlights

  1. ML Khattar government rebuked by court over fallout of Ram Rahim verdict
  2. But centre clears Khattar of any blame, BJP also rules out any punishment
  3. Khattar picked by PM, Amit Shah to lead Haryana's first BJP government
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was severely reprimanded by the High Court today over the deadly rioting by supporters of self-styled "godman" Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh after he was convicted for rape and arrested yesterday. "You let a city like Panchkula burn for political gains," charged the court on the clashes in which 36 were killed and over 250 injured.

But the ruling BJP has emphatically ruled out any leadership change amid clear signs that Mr Khattar and his government faltered once again on crisis management.

There was "no suggestion" that Mr Khattar should be removed, a top BJP source told NDTV, asserting: "We never remove anyone without hearing from them."
 
ram rahim violence panchkula pti

Property worth crores was damaged or torched in Haryana's Panchkular after the Ram Rahim verdict.

The comment followed a meeting that BJP president Amit Shah held with Anil Jain, the party's Haryana in-charge, and senior leader Kailash Vijayvargiya. "Under the circumstances, he handled it the best way possible," the party chief is reported to have said.

The centre reinforced the view after a meeting called by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told reporters: "In this ongoing situation we can't blame anyone."

The clean chit for the Khattar government appears to be based on a line of defence that targets a court in Panchkula for not heeding warnings about trouble from Ram Rahim's followers.

Top sources said five days before the Ram Rahim verdict, a government emissary had been sent to meet the judge.
 
ram rahim followers violence afp

Supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim also attacked the media setting live broadcast vans on fire.

"The state government explained that things are very tense because of the number of followers he has. They suggested options like giving the verdict in either the Sirsa guest house or the local court there. But the judge refused. This is the result," said sources.

Mr Khattar had yesterday acknowledged that there were lapses "that shouldn't have happened". The "lapses have been identified and we are taking appropriate steps," he said. 

But in another statement, he also appeared to shield Ram Rahim's followers as he said "miscreants" had infiltrated the crowd of Dera Sacha Sauda devotees.

A first-time lawmaker handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to lead Haryana's first BJP government in 2014, Mr Khattar has confronted doubts about his leadership in the past. In 2014, five women and a child were killed in a clash when the police went to arrest another self-professed "godman" Rampal in Hisar. Last year, 30 people were killed in Haryana during violent protests by Jats, who were demanding a greater share of quotas in government jobs and education. In both instances, Mr Khattar was accused of allowing a build-up of unruly elements.

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