A security personnel walks past burning vehicles set alight by rioting followers of religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim of Dera Sacha Sauda who was convicted of rape in Panchkula on August 25.(AFP)
A security personnel walks past burning vehicles set alight by rioting followers of religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim of Dera Sacha Sauda who was convicted of rape in Panchkula on August 25.(AFP)

Highlights | Ram Rahim conviction leads to violence; 30 killed; dera chief jailed in Rohtak

30 people have died so far in the aftermath of the dera chief Ram Rahim’s conviction. Restrictions have been put in parts of Punjab and Haryana. Section 144 has been imposed in 11 districts of Delhi.
By HT Correspondents | Hindustan Times, Chandigarh, Panchkula/chandigarh
UPDATED ON AUG 25, 2017 10:48 PM IST

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.

Congress reaction

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 govt of Haryana and UT Chandigarh to ensure safety and security of all citizens .

Here is how it all unfolded throughout the day

Dera chief is in a makeshift jail in Rohtak: Click to know more

9: 45pm: Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar admits that there had been lapses in managing the law and order situation after a court verdict against the Dera Sacha Sauda chief.

9.38pm: Barnala in Punjab under curfew. It is part of Malwa region that has vast following of Dera Sacha Sauda.

9:02 pm: Death toll in Sirsa reaches two. Total now 30.

8:38 pm: Police impose Section 144, restricting assembly of four or more people in 11 districts of Delhi, including New Delhi. PTI says prohibitory orders to be in place till Sept 8.

8pm: Six men in dera chief’s security held in Chandigarh; supporters’ bid to enter city foiled.

7:17 pm: Alert sounded in Ghaziabad and Noida, where Sec 144 was already imposed.

7:11 pm: President Kovind condemns violence and damage to public property, appeals for peace.

7:03pm: Toll in Panchkula violence rises to 29 —17 referred to PGIMER in Chandigarh succumb to injuries, 7 die in Panchkula general hospital, four referred to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh, after sustaining injuries in Panchkula also succumb to injuries, one killed in Sirsa. Police authorities confirmed the toll.

6.50pm: Manjit Singh GK, president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (DSGMC), says: “Before conviction, Gurmeet Ram Rahim had said he had full faith in the judiciary. The way his followers have gone on the rampage, it seems they don’t have any.”

Giani Gurbachan Singh, jathedar of Sikh temporal seat Akal Takht issued says: “People of all communities should maintain peace and not indulge in any kind of violence. Managements should guard gurdwaras round the clock to prevent any untoward incident. Sikhs should be cautious about the rumours spread by mischievous elements. Sikh organisations and societies have planned religious functions and procession in wake of marriage anniversary of Guru Nanak in Kapurthala and Gurdaspur districts; organisers should be cautious. Sikhs should conduct Akhand Paths only inside gurdwaras and not along roads.”

Meanwhile, Vineet Joshi, Punjab BJP leader, said, “Supporters of the dera came from Sangrur and Malwa areas of Punjab. Why did the Punjab government allow them to come to Haryana? This is a really unusual situation which we have not seen for 25 years. Such deployment of security was seen only in days of terrorism.”

6.40 pm: Photos of the arson in Panchkula emerge

Arson by Dera Sacha Sauda devotees in Panchkula on Friday. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
Arson by Dera Sacha Sauda devotees in Panchkula on Friday. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
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. (AFP)
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. (AFP)
Vehicles set alight by Dera Sacha Sauda sect members burn in the streets of Panchkula on Friday (AP)
Vehicles set alight by Dera Sacha Sauda sect members burn in the streets of Panchkula on Friday (AP)
Followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh throw stones at security forces during clashes after the controversial guru was convicted of rape in Panchkula on August 25. (AFP)
Followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh throw stones at security forces during clashes after the controversial guru was convicted of rape in Panchkula on August 25. (AFP)
Indian security personnel looks at burning vehicles set alight by rioting followers of the religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim convicted of rape in Panchkula on August 25. (AFP)
Indian security personnel looks at burning vehicles set alight by rioting followers of the religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim convicted of rape in Panchkula on August 25. (AFP)

6:21pm: One reported killed in Sirsa.

6:18 pm: 200 injured admitted to Panchkula general hospital, according to senior medical officer Vivek Bhadoo; 57 critically injured referred to other hospitals.

6:10 pm: Ram Rahim reaches police training centre, Sunaria, near Rohtak, which has been temporarily notified as a jail.

6:04 pm: Dera Sacha Sauda issues statement, says they have been “wronged”, will appeal in higher court. Dera spokesperson appeals for peace.

6:01 pm: 17 killed, say sources in the Haryana chief minister’s office; 40 referred to PGIMER, 100 admitted to Panchkula general hospital.

5:49 pm: Panchkula police commissioner visits hospital, says situation “now under control”. Will give list of casualties soon.

5:39 pm: Most of the deaths are reported to be due to bullet injuries.

5:39 pm: Toll rises to 13, according to doctors at the Panchkula general hospital.

5:34 pm: Some places in Delhi, including Anand Vihar, report some violence. Information awaited.

5: 32 pm: Thousands of dera followers, dejected but not violent anymore, pushed out of Panchkula; leave Panchkula in buses from Zirakpur bus stop.

5:24 pm: Punjab and Haryana high court says Dera will have to pay for damages caused.

5:19 pm: Around 500 dera followers, who were sitting peacefully, rounded up by the police.

5:17 pm: Reports of violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Loni as well.

5:15 pm: Union home minister Rajnath Singh takes stock of the situation.

5:12 pm: Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh blames Haryana government for “allowing gathering of dera followers in large numbers in Panchkula”. Says curfew imposed in five districts of Punjab as a “precautionary measure”.

5:11 pm: Mob being pushed out of Panchkula, towards Zirakpur and Punjab.

5:08 pm: Security of Rohtak handed over to CRPF. Rohtak was the centre of widespread Jat quota violence in February 2016.

5.04 pm: Three more deaths confirmed in Panchkula, where the dera chief was declared guilty in rape case; death toll now eight.

4:57 pm: Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar calls for emergency cabinet meet.

4:57 pm: Dera followers enter a school in Punjab’s Patiala.

4:56 pm: Mob being chased out on the highway by the police.

4:51 pm: Railway station in Dagroo village of Punjab’s Moga set on fire.

4:49 pm: Two vehicles set on fire in Mansa.

4:45 pm: Police Training Centre resthouse in Sunaria in Rohtak district notified as jail for dera chief; he has been taken there in chopper .

4:40 pm: Journalists continue to come under attack in Panchkula and Sirsa.

4: 36pm: Curfew imposed in Patiala and Fazilka districts of Punjab

4:34 pm: Sangrur sub-divsion office set on fire.

4:23 pm: Five bodies taken to general hospital in Sector-6, Panchkula.

4:21 pm: Income tax office in Panchkula’s Sector 2, petrol pump in Sector-4 set on fire.

4:19 pm: At least one confirmed dead near Hafed chowk in Panchkula

4:14 pm: Power house in Punjab’s Sangrur set on fire.

4:09 pm: Curfew imposed in Panchkula.

4: 06 pm: Mob enters Sector 3 residential area in Panchkula.

4:05 pm: Balluana village railway station, situated near Abohar in Bathinda district, burnt by angry mob.

4:01 pm: Ram Rahim boards chopper, taken to Rohtak.

3:58 pm: Fear of mob entering houses grips people in places adjoining Panchkula such as Peer Muchala.

3:57 pm: Curfew imposed in three Punjab town — Ferozepur, Mansa and Bathinda.

3:53 pm: Mob sets HT photojournalist Ravi Kumar’s scooter on fire.

3:53 pm: Police start running away from mob at Hafed chowk, scores of vehicles vadalised, tear gas fills the air.

3:50 pm: Tension grips Sirsa. Followers congregate at the Dera Sacha Sauda premises, refuse to comment.

3:45 pm: Dera followers get violent, metres away from court complex in Panchkula’s Sector 1.

3:42 pm: Railway station in Punjab’s Malout set on fire.

3:41pm: Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh appeals for calm and peace.

3:41 pm: Panchkula DC arrives in Sector 4 as mob gets violent.

3:40 pm: Curfew imposed in Bathinda, two cars set on fire in Mansa.

3:38 pm: Now, violence reported from Panchkula’s Sector-4. Dera followers resort to vandalising cars and other vehicles. Police resort to tear gas shelling and water cannons to control the violent mob.

3:28 pm: Curfew likely to be imposed in Panchkula.

3:27 pm: Police resort to using tear gas shells to handle growing mobs in Panchkula, fire blank shots.

3: 20 pm: Violence in Panchkula’s Sector-3. Dera followers reportedly vandalised some cars.

3.17 pm: Doctors team arrives at Panchkula courts for mandatory check-up after arrest

3:12 pm: Gurmeet Ram Rahim to be taken to Rohtak jail on chopper.

Must read | Dera chief is accused in two murder cases too

3:10 pm: Dera followers observe silence, begin gathering in one place

3:08 pm: Army deployed.

3:03 pm: Self-styled godman likely to be taken to Ambala central jail. Followers reportedly begin agitation.

3:00 pm: Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh convicted of raping two women followers, sentencing on August 28.

2:56 pm: Cable television connections across Panchkula disconnected.

2.50 pm: Judge Jagdeep Singh reading out the verdict | Know the judge

2.44pm: Power supply of nearby areas in Panchkula disconnected

2:38 pm: Dera followers rush towards the court complex, gather at the barricading in huge numbers and start “celebrations” claiming the dera chief has been acquitted!

2:35 pm: Hushed silence in Panchkula as thousands of Dera followers sat quietly in the open as it rained at Hafed Chowk adjoining Sector 4, awaiting verdict in the rape trial against Ram Rahim Singh on Friday afternoon.

2.28pm: Hearing begins in rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh

Must read | A decade and 200 hearings later, verdict today

2.25: Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh takes stock of security situation in Mohali, part of tricity along with Chandigarh and Panchkula

2.24: Ram Rahim enters court complex

2.23pm: Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar says state will get implemented any order in the rape case on Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh; calls for peace among “all Indians, particularly dera premis”.

2:19 pm: After 200 hearings spread over 10 years and numerous stay orders of higher courts in between, the CBI special trial court in Panchkula is set to decide the fate of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

1: 57pm: Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has arrived in Panchkula

1:49 pm: Heavy security deployed outside the Panchkula court, Ram Rahim to arrive shortly.

1:46 pm: On Facebook, Students for Society (SFS) leader writes about how campus of Panjab University is also witnessing some support for Ram Rahim.

1:37 pm: Section 144 imposed in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh and Sri Ganganagar, internet services suspended for 48 hours in Sri Ganganagar.

1:24 pm: Patiala DC imposes curfew within 1 km radius of Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s Patiala residence, New Moti Bagh Palace.

1: 18 pm: Ram Rahim’s foray into the world of cinema as the ‘Messenger of God’ was an attempt to give him a larger-than-life image.

1:01 pm: Since the dera has a huge following, Ram Rahim enjoys tremendous political clout. Politicians of all shades call on the dera head to seek his “blessings” during the elections and the dera obliges them whole-heartedly.

12:50 pm: Security around Panchkula court complex at its maximum now. Heavy deployment at all entry points.

12: 43 pm: Punjab and Haryana high court directs FIR against any politician instigating people as dera chief heads for Panchkula court.

12: 30 pm: Ram Rahim leaves Kurukshetra dera after a brief stopover and without addressing the waiting followers. The dera head, it is learnt, shifted to another vehicle as part of the security drill.

12: 26 pm: Ram Rahim stops at Kurukshetra dera, which is along the route, to meet his followers who had gathered there.

12:23 pm: Punjab and Haryana high court takes stock of the situation, directs the Haryana government to take necessary steps, including use of force if required.

12:20 pm: Security around the court complex in Panchkula further beefed up. BSF personnel on the roads.

12:14 pm: Haryana IG KK Rao says no unauthorised person will be allowed inside court in Panchkula. He further refused to reveal the surveillance plan citing security reasons. On being asked about the number of cars in the cavalcade, he refused to comment.

12:10 pm: Army helicopter conducts security surveillance over Panchkula.

11:59 am: Ram Rahim leaves Kaithal after having breakfast. Likely to stop in Kurukshetra next.

11:50 am: Dera followers form human chain along the highway in Panchkula, RAF companies deployed at the entry point of Panchkula court

11:44 am: Ram Rahim stops at Naam Charcha ghar, situated on the Kaithal-Jind road, has breakfast.

11: 38 am: Dera followers take to the highway in Panchkula, cheering, dancing and waiting for the Dera chief. They believe Ram Rahim will meet them today.

11:30 am: Thousands of dera followers line Kaithal-Kurukshetra highway for a ‘glimpse of Pitaji’. The dera head is expected to cross the highway around 12:30 pm. Police struggling to control crowds, which are otherwise peaceful.

11:26 am: Security around the Panchkula court complex beefed up, security increased manifold.

11: 18 am: Dera followers come out in the streets near Sector 3 and 12 in Panchkula. Situation calm as of now. BSF has stepped in.

11:02 am: Kafila kam kiya jayega. Vishwas rakhiye (Size of the convoy will be reduced. Have faith),” the Haryana DGP said.

10:56 am: “Flag march in Panchkula soon. Only two cars from Ram Rahim’s convoy will be allowed to enter Panchkula,” the Haryana DGP said.

10: 52 am: Haryana DGP BS Sandhu talks to the media. “Presently, there is peace in Haryana. The dera chief has left Sirsa and is in police protection. He will come straight to court. 38 additional companies of paramilitary forces have been called in since last night. Army is on standby,” he said.

10:48 am: According to ANI, many dera followers fainted as the self-styled godman’s convoy passed them Sirsa. They reportedly cried and tried to block the convoy.

10:44 am: Ram Rahim Singh enjoys Z-plus security cover from the Haryana Police and is travelling with a convoy full of supporters.

10:36 am: The Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula will give its verdict in the rape case at 2.30pm today.

10:24 am: The sect chief has been directed to appear personally in the court in a case pertaining to the alleged rape and sexual exploitation of sadhvis (female disciples).

10:13 am: Even though curfew has not been imposed in Panchkula, streets of the town wear a deserted look.

9:58 am: Security beefed up across Panchkula. Verdict in the Ram Rahim rape case will be pronounced at 2:30 pm.

9:48 am: Haryana Police keeping route to Panchkula under wraps for security reasons. Shops in Panchkula and Sirsa shut, streets deserted as paramilitary forces keep tight vigil.

9:40 am: Stadia in Panchkula and Chandigarh converted into temporary jail complexes if dera followers violate law and order.

9:36 am: Ram Rahim left Sirsa in a 200-car motorcade and will be travelling through curfew-bound villages on the outskirts of Sirsa city in Haryana.

9:30 am: It will take the Dera chief four-five hours to reach Panchkula, where the army is deployed to deal with any situation along with other security forces.

9:15 am: Amid lockdown in Haryana, the self-styled godman leaves Sirsa for Panchkula.

9 am: “Ram Rahim to travel for his appearance at the Panchkula CBI court by road,” Dera spokesperson Aditya Insan has confirmed. He is expected to leave by 10 am and will be travelling through Haryana.

August 25, 8:45 am: Panchkula now a virtual fortress. Roads deserted as people wary of venturing out. An uneasy calm prevails.

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