World

NEW DELHI – At least 30 people were killed and over 250 injured on Friday when clashes broke out in northern India after a court convicted a controversial religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of raping two of his followers, sparking fury among tens of thousands of supporters who had gathered to await the verdict.


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Thousands of supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who is the head of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda, went on the rampage, setting fire to vehicles, buildings and railway stations soon after a special CBI court convicted him in a 2002 rape case. Police responded by opening fire.

The unrest which began in Panchkula where the verdict was handed down, spread to other parts of Haryana and Punjab and even New Delhi where a bus and train were set on fire.

Congress president, Sonia Gandhi has expressed grave concern and shock at the unabated violence in Panchkula and other parts of Haryana. Gandhi appealed to everyone to maintain peace and harmony. She has spoken to the Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and has asked the government of Haryana and UT Chandigarh to ensure safety and security of all citizens.

A follower of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh pleads for his safety after being hit with a stick during clashes between the controversial guru’s followers and security forces in Panchkula on August 25, 2017. The clashes broke out after a court convicted the Dera head of raping two of his followers.

Congress president, Sonia Gandhi has expressed grave concern and shock at the unabated violence in Panchkula and other parts of Haryana. Gandhi appealed to everyone to maintain peace and harmony. She has spoken to the Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh and has asked the government of Haryana and UT Chandigarh to ensure safety and security of all citizens.

Dera Sacha Sauda supporters overturn an outdoor broadcast van on the streets of Panchkula.

President Kovind condemns violence and damage to public property, appeals for peace.

In the aftermath of deadly violence, army, and paramilitary soldiers were deployed as police put the northern town on a security lockdown for fear that a guilty verdict could spark violence.

Dera Sacha Sauda supporters attack a member of the media (foreground wearing a blue dark t-shirt) in Panchkula.

Police have used tear gas to handle the growing mobs in Panchkula. Media vehicles were vandalized by Dera supporters, some OB vans were set ablaze. A curfew has been imposed in Patiala, Panchkula, Sirsa, Bhatinda, Ferozpur, Sirsa and Mansa, according to The Quint.

Singh will be sent to a jail in the town of Rohtak until his sentence is announced on Monday, a prosecution lawyer said. However, he has denied the charges.

Singh was accused of raping two female followers in a case dating back to 2002 at the headquarters of his Dera Sacha Sauda group in the town of Sirsa.

A Dera Sacha Sauda supporter braves water cannon used by security personnel to disperse a violent mob in Panchkula.

Besides the rape charges, Singh was also under investigation over allegations that he convinced 400 of his male followers to undergo castration on the promises of becoming closer to God.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh will make ‘Surgical Strikes’ immortal through a movie called ‘MSG – The Lionheart – Hind ka NaPak Ko Jawab’

Singh has also scripted and starred in his own films.