Panchkula court drops sedition charge against 19 Dera activists

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Panchkula (Haryana), July 19 (IANS) In a blow to Haryana Police, a court in Panchkula town on Thursday dropped the sedition charge against 19 activists of the controversial Dera Sacha Sauda sect.

They had been facing sedition charge in connection with the large-scale violence in Panchkula following the conviction of sect’s chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in two rape cases on August 25 last year.

The 19 activists, against whom the court dropped the sedition charge, include three key aides of the sect chief — Pawan Insan, Surinder Dhiman and Chamkaur Singh.

This is the second time that the Haryana Police is facing a setback over the investigations relating to the Panchkula violence. Earlier, six activists of the sect were acquitted of charges of rioting, by a local court here in May this year.

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A number of sect activists were booked by the Haryana Police on charges of sedition, inciting violence and being involved in a conspiracy to help the Dera chief escape after his conviction by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on August 25 on two counts of rape of female disciples in 1999.

Ram Rahim has been sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of over Rs 30 lakh.

His rape conviction led to violence in Panchkula and Sirsa in Haryana, leaving 41 people dead and over 260 injured.

Some of the closest aides of the disgraced sect chief, including Honeypreet, Aditya Insan and Pawan Insan, were booked by the police on charges of sedition, inciting violence and criminal conspiracy.

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