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More skeletons in Dera closet

The development comes at a time when several families have approached the police, saying their members were killed and buried in the Dera

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More skeletons in Dera closet
Dera Sacha Sauda premises in Sirsa
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    The Haryana police have asked Dera Sacha Sauda to provide detailed records of around 600 people whose post-cremation bones and ashes are said to be buried at its headquarters in Sirsa.

    First, the Dera mouthpiece, Sach Kahun, claimed that burnt remains of several people were buried on the Sirsa campus after their cremation. Then, Dera vice-chairperson PR Nain also admitted the same before the police.

    The development comes at a time when several families have approached the police, saying their members were killed and buried in the Dera. The controversial sect's secrets started tumbling out after its chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was jailed last month on rape charges.

    He is also facing trial in two murder cases, including that of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati who had written about the illegal activities inside the Dera.

    "It was claimed that Dera would urge its followers to bury bones and ashes of the dead inside the campus, rather than immersing them in the rivers. We have sought detailed records of such deceased people," Haryana DGP BS Sandhu told DNA.

    Thirty-eight people had died, mostly in Haryana's Panchkula, where the Dera chief was convicted, in large-scale violence, arson and police firing after his followers rampaged across Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and NCR.

    Nain had been arrested after the violence. "These are ashes, not skeletal remains. We have not found any skeletal remains as such. As far as ashes are concerned, we have sought a list of the deceased from the Dera," Sirsa SP Ashwin Shenvi told DNA.

    The Dera mouthpiece had said the self-styled godman would exhort his followers not to immerse burnt remains in rivers, as is the Hindu custom, but burry them on the campus and plant saplings over them.

    The Haryana police is probing the complaints of mysterious disappearance of Dera followers. "There have been complaints... families have alleged that their members had gone missing from the Dera. We have begun investigation into these cases," said SP Shenvi.

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