Lucknow: Security has been stepped up in western Uttar Pradesh districts, bordering Haryana and Delhi, to check any spillover of the violence by the supporters of rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in the state.

The Uttar Pradesh police has deployed additional forces in these areas, put up cordons, intensified patrolling along its borders with Haryana, besides asking local intelligence units to be on high alert, fearing violence by the supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief, who has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for raping two women.

There are 18 “deras" run by the sect across the state and most of them are located in Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Amroha, Agra, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahar, Baghpat, Hapur and Meerut districts—all in western UP, which falls under the Meerut zone, having proximity with Haryana. “Orders have been issued to deploy adequate police force at all the deras to ensure that there is no law and order problem. While district police officers have been told to remain vigilant, Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) will be assisting them in maintaining peace," IG Vijay Singh Meena said.

After the conviction of Gurmeet Singh on 25 August for raping two women and incidents of large-scale violence that followed in Haryana, an alert has been sounded in UP to check any spillover of violence into the state.

“An alert has been sounded in UP, especially in districts bordering Haryana and Delhi, to check spillover of trouble in UP by strict checking on borders. No person or group should be allowed to foment trouble in UP. Administrative machinery has been geared up in western UP," additional director general, law and order, Anand Kumar, said. Police have set up barriers on borders and also around the deras and are conducting round-the-clock patrolling in the districts, he said. To stop any infiltration attempts at night, directions have been issued to ensure adequate lighting arrangements in districts skirting Haryana.

While local intelligence units have been directed to monitor the activities of Gurmeet Singh’s supporters, the anti-riot machinery in these districts has been also activated to prevent any backlash. Prohibitory orders will be enforced, if needed, in the districts bordering Haryana, Kumar said. The movement of dera supporters from Haryana is also being monitored as they had run riot in parts of the neighbouring state after his conviction on Friday.

The followers of the self-styled godman are spread across several states. The dera has set up congregation centres in western UP, where its followers assemble every morning. It has a big establishment in Barnawa town of Baghpat district and congregation centres in Mawana, Modinagar and other places. Intelligence agencies had received inputs that hundreds of dera followers from Aligarh had left for Panchkula in private cars and hired buses.

A large number of the followers are from Tappal, Pisawan, Chandaus, Atrauli, Gangeri, Charra, Harduaganj, Jalali, Akrabad, Iglas, Gonda and Aligarh. Since Friday, the ADG (law and order) has sent several missives to district police chiefs to ensure that Gurmeet Singh’s sympathizers are not allowed to hold any protest anywhere in the state. “Any attempt of mischief mongering even through social media will be strongly dealt with," he said.