Chandigarh | Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said on Tuesday a decision on the parole application of Dera Sacha Sauda chief and rape-murder convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh would be taken keeping in view the interests of the state.
“Anyone who is entitled for parole can seek one. We cannot stop anyone,” Khattar said at a press conference here, in which two Indian National Lok Dal legislators — Zakir Hussain and Parminder Dhull — joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Asked about who would be responsible in case violence breaks out if the Dera chief was granted parole, Khattar said: “You are trying to draw inference on your own as if any decision has been taken.”
Ram Rahim, behind bars at Sunaria jail in Haryana’s Rohtak district after being convicted in two rape cases and in the murder case of a journalist, has sought 42 days of parole to look after his fields in Sirsa district.
The 51-year-old, who is also facing trial in the murder case of a Dera follower — Ranjit Singh — and in another case involving castration of sect followers, got a favourable report from the jail superintendent, who said his conduct had been good and he had not violated any rule.
Earlier in the day, Sirsa Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Garg said things were under process and reports had been sought from the revenue and police departments. “At this stage, all I can say is that things are under process,” Garg told PTI.
The chief minister said there were legal, administrative and other procedures involved on a parole plea.
A parole application is filed before the jail superintendent who forwards it to the deputy commissioner concerned. Then a report is sought from the superintendent of police and, in the end, a recommendation is made by the divisional commissioner, he said.
Khattar said after receiving the divisional commissioner’s recommendation, the government would play its role if needed. “If there will be no role of the government, it won’t,” he added.
“Any decision, which is in the interest of the state, will be taken. If we (government) have to take any decision that is not in the interest of the state, then it won’t be taken,” he said. “We have not taken any decision so far (on parole issue).”
Khattar said the parole issue was with the DC-SP level and there was no time frame when the Sirsa SP or DC would submit their report.
Things will move forward after a report is submitted, Khattar said, adding that the government would make a point regarding law and order if needed.
On Monday, the police in Sirsa, where the Dera is headquartered, said it would prepare its report keeping in view the merits and demerits of the plea. A district police official had said earlier that the revenue department would ascertain how much land the Dera chief owns.
The Sirsa district administration has been asked to submit a report to the Rohtak division commissioner with a copy marked to the jail superintendent. In Ram Rahim’s case, the Rohtak commissioner is empowered to exercise the powers of the state government in deciding parole request. Before taking a decision, the recommendation from the Sirsa district administration will be taken into account, officials said.
Health Minister Anil Vij had said earlier that Ram Rahim or any other prisoner was entitled to seek parole if the criteria was met as per the law. He said the parole issue should not be linked with the upcoming assembly polls.
“There is no connection between the two. If under law, any convict is entitled to apply for parole he is free to do so,” Vij said. “However, whether to grant one (parole) or not will be decided by the authorities concerned after taking various factors into account.”
The chief minster said the courts were “also keeping an eye” on various cases pertaining to the Dera and Ram Rahim regarding the incidents of violence followed the sect chief’s conviction in August 2017.
In August 2017, the flamboyant Dera chief was sentenced to 20 years in jail for raping two women. The violence which broke out after his conviction left 41 people dead in Panchkula and Sirsa and scores injured.
In January, a special CBI court in Panchkula sentenced Ram Rahim and three others to life imprisonment for the murder of a journalist over 16 years ago.