31 dead so far, curfew relaxed, officials say situation is under control.
Panchkula: Security forces remained on high alert on Saturday in Panchkula as an uneasy calm prevailed in the district, the epicentre of Friday's violence triggered by the rape conviction of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
The violence that claimed 31 lives has left locals in shock and anguish, with many questioning why authorities failed to assess and control the situation on time.
"We have been living in a state of terror. We wonder if this is Panchkula or a city in some war-torn country," a young resident of the city said, recalling Friday’s horror.
Officials said the curfew at several parts of Punjab and Haryana was relaxed on Saturday morning to allow people to buy essentials.
Flag marches were being conducted at many places in the two states by forces including the paramilitary, officials said.
After his conviction, Gurmeet Ram Rahim was taken to a make-shift jail at Sunaria in Rohtak amid tight security.
In Panchkula, 29 people died and over 250 were injured after the Dera Sacha Sauda followers went on a rampage on Friday. Over 60 police personnel including two IPS officers were also injured. Two people died in Sirsa, the headquarters of Ram Rahim’s sect Dera Sacha Sauda.
"The situation is tense, but under control now," a senior official said on Saturday.
Residents, who had locked themselves in their houses on Friday after the Dera followers set afire vehicles and government property and clashed with the security forces, called it a nightmare.
"How could thousands of people arrive here despite prohibitory orders under Section 144?" asked one.
Another resident, a senior citizen, said he had never seen anything like this before in Panchkula, a peaceful city with the Shivalik hills in the backdrop.
"We were held captive inside our homes because of the situation, which in the first place, could have been avoided. Our children are still in a state of fear, they are scared to go out. Who is responsible for this?" he asked.
Meanwhile, curfew was relaxed in some towns in Punjab on saturday morning where it was put as a precautionary measure.
Punjab's Malwa belt comprising areas like Patiala, Moga, Ferozepur and Bathinda, has a number of Dera followers.