In Pics: Violence after Ram Rahim’s conviction, Dera supporters on the rampage
A CBI special court in Panchkula held Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of raping his female followers. Since Wednesday, parts of Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh have been under a security lockdown as 200,000 supporters of Ram Rahim massed in Panchkula ahead of the verdict. Mobile internet and data services have been suspended in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh for 72 hours.
In the aftermath of the verdict, atleast 13 people have been reported dead with curfew imposed in Punjab in Ferozepur, Mansa,Bathinda, Patiala and Fazilka as well as Panchkula. After the CBI’s court order today, which means Ram Rahim could face up to 7 years in prison, violence broke out as his followers pelted stones and set fire to fire engines and OB vans near the site. The court will announce the quantum of the punishment on Monday.
TV images showed chaotic street scenes from across Panchkula town where hundreds of people clashed with police with sticks and stones. Plumes of smoke from tear gas shells were seen rising above its tree-lined streets.Some places in Delhi, including Anand Vihar have also reported violence.
Dera followers attacked media vehicles and journalists in Panchkula. At least 15 incidents of violence were reported within 45 minutes in Punjab and Haryana after the court verdict became known.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said curfew has been imposed in Firozpur, Bhatinda, Mansa and Malout. He said nothing untoward has happened and the step was taken as a matter of precaution. Arson has also reported from many parts Delhi.
Two bogies of a train standing in a yard of Anand Vihar Railway Station in east Delhi caught fire on Friday, but the blaze was soon brought under control. Deputy Commissioner of Police Parwaiz Ahmed said ‘prima facie’ it did not appear to be related to the verdict in the case against Ram Rahim.
Two Delhi Transport Corporation buses were set on fire in Rohini area of north Delhi. Fire department officials said they received a call at 4.48 p.m. about the buses being burnt, and the fire has been controlled.
The sect said “injustice” has been done to Ram Rahim Singh and appealed for calm. The statement came as thousands of sect supporters went on the rampage in Haryana and Punjab.Injustice has been meted out to us. We will appeal against this. Whatever has happened to us is what has happened to gurus in history,” a statement from sect spokesman Dilawar Insan said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was briefed on Friday about the violence in Haryana and Punjab. Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and Intelligence Bureau Chief Rajiv Jain met the Prime Minister and briefed them about the prevailing situation in both states, an official told IANS.
Television channels showed motorcycles, cars and buses in flames as hundreds of police personnel in riot gear watched helplessly. The mob also toppled a TV outdoor broadcasting van, while several news channels said their journalists were targeted.