CHANDIGARH: The Prime Minister is of the nation and not the BJP, the Punjab and Haryana high court remarked on Saturday as riots engulfed two states after self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of rape, Hindustan Times reported.
At least 36 people were killed and properties worth millions of rupees were damaged in widespread riots that broke out on Friday in several parts of Punjab and Haryana when the Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief was convicted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the violence and appealed for peace through a tweet. “Instances of violence are deeply distressing. Strongly condemn violence urge everyone to maintain peace”.
The instances of violence today are deeply distressing. I strongly condemn the violence & urge everyone to maintain peace.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 25, 2017
But the court termed the Centre’s response to the violence “only a knee-jerk reaction”.
When Additional Solicitor General Satya Pal Jain, who is representing the centre, said that yesterday’s violence was a matter of the state. “Is Haryana not a part of India? Why are Punjab and Haryana treated like step children?” the court questioned.
“Why do you (the Centre) treat the region as colonies?” asked a full bench of acting chief justice SS Saron and justices Surya Kant and Avneesh Jhingan.
“National integrity is above parties. Are we one nation or a party nation?” the court responded after additional solicitor general Satya Pal Jain argued that such violence had happened in states ruled by other parties.
“You let the situation escalate. You surrendered to the situation,” said court, admonishing the state government over a Panchkula police officer being sacked this morning. “You are trying to crucify a small DCP of Panchkula what about those political masters who have been giving wrong directions?” the judges said to the Haryana government.
It also criticised the BJP government in Haryana for “politically surrendering” to the Dera Sacha Sauda, which claims to have 50 million followers across northern India and is understood to wield considerable political clout.
“This was a political surrender to lure vote banks … they were outsiders, you allowed them to enter and stay,” said the three-judge bench.