CHANDIGARH -- Ahead of the Special Court's judgement in a 15-year-old sexual exploitation case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Haryana Government to use force if needed, and file a First Information Report (FIR) against the leaders as well, if they make provocative statements.
Amid the increasing agitation propelled by Dera followers, Section 144 has been imposed in Chandigarh and as many as 74 trains have been canceled for Friday in view of law and order situation in Haryana.
Also, the impact of the security arrangements has also started showing in the adjoining area of Rajasthan as the internet services have been suspended for 48 hours and Section 144 has been imposed in Sri Ganganagar.
An Army helicopter has also been deployed to conduct a security surveillance over Panchkula, where the hearing is to take place.
The possibility of an outbreak of violence in Haryana has also affected the cost of air travel. Reportedly, the fare from Delhi to Chandigarh has risen up to as much as ₹11,000.
Earlier on Thursday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and assured him of adequate forces for security.
The Dera Sacha Sauda chief released a video message asking his supporters, camping in Panchkula, to go back home. He also asked his supporters to respect the law and maintain peace.
"I appeal to everyone to maintain peace. I had earlier also asked the Dera followers, who have gone to Panchkula, to return to their home. I will go to court. We all should respect the law and maintain peace," he said in the video message.
He also posted a written appeal on social media platforms- Facebook and Twitter.
Around 53 companies of the paramilitary forces and 50,000 personnel of the Haryana Police have also been deployed. In addition, the Army has been alerted too.
The administration is also asked to take a stringent action if anyone tries to break the law.
The Dera Sacha Sauda chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim, is accused of rape charges of a female devotee in 1999.
On August 17, the special CBI court of Panchkula concluded hearing in the case but reserved pronouncing the verdict for August 25.
The CBI had taken over the investigation in 2002 and the hearing had been going on since 2007.
For the August 17 hearing, Singh was recused from appearing in person at Panchkula by the court. The Dera chief had cited medical reasons for not attending court in person.
Also on HuffPost India: