first_imgTwo days after the followers of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda went on the rampage and clashed with security forces in Panchkula, the epicentre of Friday’s violence, a sense of fear is still palpable among the local people in this otherwise peaceful city, which is now limping back to normality.“As I peeped through the window and saw the agitated mob rushing past on the street, the memories of Partition were rekindled … I told my wife, who was sitting beside me, to stay calm, but yet the fear was evident in her eyes,” Balraj Katiyal, a nonagenarian residing in Sector 4 of Panchkula, told The Hindu. Mr. Balraj’s son Dalip said: “The scene was scary, they [Dera supporters] started throwing stones and torching vehicles soon after the verdict in the rape case was announced,” he said, adding that the government should have taken note of the huge build-up of Dera followers.“Once the security forces used tear gas, the followers started running for shelter. A few scaled the wall of my house and tried to barge in. We were afraid they would harm us,” said Mr. Dalip, a retired bank employee.“Even before the verdict, the way the number of Dera supporters was swelling in the city was creating a sense of fear among us. While the situation is calm now, the past three or four days were frightening,” he said.Rakesh Agarwal of Panchkula said the failure of the State government to judge the situation had put the life of city residents at risk.Lax action“Our lives were at stake and it was all due to the government’s laxity. My maid told me that Dera followers had started gathering in nearby villages at their relatives and friends’ places. The government ignored the early signs and ultimately it was the local people who suffered,” he said. “For the past five days, my family and I have been cooped up inside the house due to the panic across the city. The day the Dera supporters created mayhem, the city’s sky was covered in smoke. The visuals I witnessed from my roof were chilling,” he said.Seema Bhardwaj, a resident of Sector 2 of the city, said she heard loud howling voices from the street. It was enough to create panic in the family. “As I heard the howling I rushed to the roof and saw the mob vandalising vehicles on the roads. Soon they [Dera supporters] attacked the security forces. For almost an hour, they created mayhem. As they assembled outside my house, it sent a shiver down my spine. I was worried they would harm us,” she said. “What my family and I went through the past few days was a terrible experience. We were virtually locked inside our home.”last_img