Panchkula: At least 12 people were killed and many injured in a major violence after conviction Dera Sacha chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh for rape by a CBI court today, police said.
“Death toll in Panchkula violence rises to 12,” news agency PTI quoted a medical official as saying today.
OB vans of several media houses were attacked and damaged by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s followers. Cars were also damaged by the attackers.
Police used batons and lobbed tear gas shell to disperse the crowd.
The followers of the self-declared spiritual leader had gathered in Panchkula for the past few days to protest his innocence.
According to reports, a railway station in Maloch in Punjab was set on fire allegedly by protesters.
Income tax office in Panchkula’s Sector 2, a petrol pump in Sector-4 have been set on fire allegedly by the followers of the spiritual leader, media reports said.
Curfew has been imposed by the administration in three Punjab towns of Ferozepur, Mansa and Bathinda.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar have urged people in the states to maintain peace.
The Special Court found Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of raping two woman followers in 2002.
The court reserved its order for the quantum of punishment for Aug 28 and the self-styled Godman was taken into custody.
He faces a jail term up to seven years.
The verdict passed by Justice Jagdeep Singh, came amid a heightened tension with massive security forces, including the Army, being deployed ahead of the verdict to maintain peace in case of a sectarian frenzy.
Tens of thousands of Dera followers had started taking to the street since Wednesday, much ahead of verdict, prompting the state Governments of Haryana and Punjab to take an unprecedented security measure to prevent any sectarian frenzy.
The sect claims to have sway over millions of people.
The Haryana government imposed an indefinite curfew in Sirsa as a precautionary measure and a 72-hour ban on mobile internet services, except voice calls.
As many as 72 trains have been cancelled in view of the law and order situation.
The Centre has extended its support and provided security in both the states.
All educational institutions in Haryana remained closed and shops businessmen downed shutters.
Twenty columns of army, 53 companies of paramilitary forces and 50,000 policemen have been deployed in what came as an unprecedented preventive measure.
The CBI had filed an FIR against the self-styled God man, accusing him of raping two ‘sadhvis’ (female followers), in 2002 and the case came to trial in 2008.
The CBI move came after the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo moto action on the basis of a letter written by one of the alleged victims to the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Bajpayee.
On the last day of the hearing, the court had directed Gurmeet Ram Rahim him to appear before it at 2.45 pm on Friday — when the verdict is likely to be announced.
Image Courtesy: social media
–India blooms News Service