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Ram Rahim convicted of rape: Violence breaks out as followers clash with cops, 29 killed

Hundreds of supporters of Dera chief Ram Rahim marched towards the CBI court in Panchkula soon after the “godman” was convicted of rape.

india Updated: Aug 25, 2017 19:47 IST
Surender Sharma
Surender Sharma
Hindustan Times, Panchkula
Ram Rahim,Baba Ram Rahim,Gurmeet Ram Rahim
Security personnel conduct a flag march in Panchkula’s Sector 5 on Friday.(Ravi Kumar/HT)

Hundreds of followers of controversial “godman” Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh clashed with police, attacked journalists and were involved in arson on Friday after a CBI court convicted the Dera Sacha Sauda chief of raping two women 15 years ago.

At least 29 people were killed and 250 injured in violence, arson and police firing triggered by Singh’s conviction.

“Seventeen people are dead and at least 200 are injured,” PTI quoted Vivek Bhadu, Chief Medical Officer at the civil hospital in Panchkula, as saying. Another seven deaths were recorded at PGIMER hospital in Chandigarh and four at Government Medical College in Chandigarh, officials said. Bhadu said that most of the deaths were due to bullet injuries.

HT journalists saw hundreds of Singh’s supporters marching towards the court in sector 3 of Panchkula town after the verdict was announced in a highly guarded courtroom. (LIVE updates)

Police used batons and lobbed tear gas shell to disperse Singh’s followers who had gathered in the town for days to protest his innocence. Some of them were seen streaming into Panchkula’s residential colonies.

At least one journalist was injured and a photojournalist’s camera was damaged in Panchkula. Two TV channels said their outdoor broadcasting vans were damaged.

Violence also appeared to spread beyond Panchkula. A railway station in Maloch in Punjab was burned down, police said.

A power station near Mansa, also in Punjab, was attacked and two vehicles were also torched there.

The court will announce the quantum of punishment for Singh on August 28, a CBI counsel told Hindustan Times.

Singh faces up to seven years’ in jail. He was taken into custody by the Haryana police, and he is expected to be transferred to jail in Rohtak in a chopper.

The verdict came 15 years after the women, his former followers, accused the self-styled spiritual leader of sexually abusing them repeatedly. The court had more than 200 sittings spread over 10 years and numerous stay orders by higher courts.

Earlier on in the day, thousands of hysterical followers lined up the roads from Sirsa to Panchkula, slowing down his convoy on the way to the court. Many were in tears.

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 16:05 IST