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Uneasy calm prevails a day after mayhem in Panchkula, locals express anguish, anger

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Uneasy calm prevails a day after mayhem in Panchkula, locals express anguish, anger
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Panchkula (Har): Security forces remained on high alert Saturday in Panchkula as an uneasy calm prevailed in the district, the epicentre of yesterday'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 the authorities failed to assess and control the situation in time.

"We have been living in a state of terror. Yesterday and over the past few days we have been wondering if this is Panchkula or a city in some war-torn country," a youth, who resides here, said while recalling the ordeal.

Curfew had been clamped at several places in Haryana and Punjab after the violence and officials said that relaxation had been given at most places this morning to allow people to buy essentials.

Flag marches were being conducted at many places in the two states by the forces including the paramilitary, officials said.

After his conviction, Gurmeet Ram Rahim was lodged in a jail at Sunaria in Rohtak amid tight security. Central forces have been deployed in the area, officials said.

In Panchkula, 29 people had died and over 250 were injured after the Dera Sacha Sauda followers went on a rampage. Over 60 police personnel including two IPS officers were also injured.

"Situation is tense, but under control now," a senior official said Saturday.

Residents, who had virtually locked themselves in their houses yesterday 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," said the youth.

Another resident, a senior citizen, said he had never seen anything like this before in Panchkula, a peaceful city overlooking the Shivalik hills in the backdrop.

"We were held like captives 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 come out now. Who is responsible for this?" he asked.

Meanwhile, curfew was relaxed in some towns in Punjab too this morning where it was clamped as a precautionary measure yesterday.

Punjab's Malwa belt comprising areas like Patiala, Moga, Ferozepur and Bathinda has a number of Dera followers.

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