A CBI special court on Friday found the Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of raping and sexually exploiting two female disciples.  

As per latest reports, at least 30 people were killed and over 200 injured in 10 Punjab districts and in three Haryana towns, including Panchkula and Sirsa as enraged supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh resorted to large-scale violence following his conviction in the rape case.  

Trial court judge Jagdeep Singh announced the verdict amid unprecedented security. The sect chief was taken into custody following his conviction and was later flown to Rohtak by helicopter to be lodged in a prison. 

The towns where curfew has been clamped include Mansa, Bathinda, Patiala, Fazilka, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Malout, Sangrur and Barnala.  

Haryana’s Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh, where a CBI court gave a guilty ruling against the Dera chief, resembled a war zone. Besides Panchkula, curfew was imposed in Sirsa, headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda where one person died in the violence, and Kaithal towns.  

Security forces opened fire at several places as Dera supporters went around setting vehicles and buildings on fire in this town which adjoins Chandigarh.

Panchkula looked like a war zone within hours after the verdict. Journalists and security personnel came under targeted attack. Some journalists fled for their lives and took shelter in nearby homes.

More than 200 people, including security personnel and media persons, were injured in the mayhem. Some bodies, bleeding and with bullet wounds, lay on the roads, witnesses said.

Panchkula town, where curfew was imposed after violence started, was virtually under siege by the rampaging Dera followers who had a free run as they vastly outnumbered the police and security personnel.

Reports said that over 100 vehicles were set on fire by the rampaging mobs. Several government and private buildings were also damaged and some torched. Residents reported seeing plumes of black smoke rising into the sky at several places.

People complained that the authorities posted Army units and para-military forces only to secure some locations, including residential areas of government officers and ministers, while the rest of the town was left at the mercy of the violent Dera followers.

The Dera followers, in thousands, had gathered in Panchkula from various areas of Punjab and Haryana ahead of Friday’s court verdict, in brazen violation of orders banning the assembly of more than four people.

Attempts were made to burn two railways stations in Punjab’s Malout and Mansa towns by agitated followers of the self-styled godman. An electricity office in Sangrur town was set on fire.

Reports said miscreants damaged and set on fire two Income Tax department vehicles in Mansa town.

In Sangrur district, miscreants set a tehsil office in Lehragaga town on fire. In Lambi town in Muktsar district, masked men lobbed petrol bombs on a telephone exchange and fired in the air to trigger panic.

Security has been beefed up in Himachal Pradesh’s Baddi and Parwanoo towns, which share a border with Haryana.

Earlier, in order to prevent any violent outbreak, security was beefed-up in both Haryana and Punjab as violence reached the national capital. Army was called in the state to deal with situation along with other security forces. Section 144 (curfew) of the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) was imposed across Chandigarh, as more than 40,000 of Ram Rahim’s followers have gathered at Naam Charcha Ghar in Panchkula area.  

(With inputs from IANS…)

Elaborate arrangements were made to convert the Chandigarh cricket stadium into a ‘temporary prison’ in case of any unpleasant situation. All schools and colleges were also instructed to remain closed on Thursday and Friday. 

Ahead of the verdict, Dera chief had asked his followers to maintain peace and calm in a video message on Thursday. 

“I have to go to the court for hearing the verdict and I will go to Panchkula. We should all abide by law and maintain peace and calm,” Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh said in the video.

Highlights of the day: 

11: 18PM: Baghpat District Magistrate directs all schools in the region to remain closed tomorrow.

 

11 :02PM: “We used tear gas, lathicharge, pellet bullets and fired on them (protesters) where arson was reported,” says BS Sandhu who is the DGP of Haryana. 

 

10: 02PM: Delhi Transport Corporation has suspended bus services to NCR due to incidents of arson.

9: 05PM: Action will be taken against those who took law in their hands, says Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar.

9: 00PM: Police release video footage of hooligans who set fire to DTC buses in Delhi. 

8: 54PM: After Ram Nath Kovind, PM Modi condemns violence, appeals citizens to maintain peace. 

 

8: 38PM: According to the recent Delhi police tweet, Section 144 CrPC has been imposed in 11 districts of Delhi including New Delhi. People are requested to cooperate and maintain peace.

8: 31PM: Punjab CM briefed Congress President Sonia Gandhi about the law and order situation in Punjab and has assured her that  he will maintain peace and harmony in the state.

8: 25PM: While addressing the media after nearly 5 hours the incident took place, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar remained mystified when he was asked about the number of people who have died in the ongoing violence.

Reportedly, the Chief Minister even had to look back behind during his address in order to confirm the number of deaths.

8: 15PM: BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj came out in support of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, and said there was only one person against him while crores support him. 

8: 10PM: Curfew has been imposed in Punjab’s Sangrur and Moga districts. While heavy security is in place as Bhatinda is having Rapid Action force deployment.

7: 58PM: The Army which was moving in to Mansa, (which is under curfew for now) from Bhatinda is facing severe clashes with miscreants. Bhatinda’s income tax office was torched earlier.

 

7: 47PM: We’ll not let anybody disturb our law & order. We are assessing situation & all points to city are completely sealed, says IGP AS Dhillon in Sirsa. 

 

7: 41PM: Amid the ongoing violence, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has called for a high level meeting tomorrow. The meeting is likely to take place around 11AM. 

7: 28PM: As per latest reports, the revised death toll reads 2o dead and over 2oo injured. 

7: 21PM: Almost 250 trains cancelled. All trains going towards Rohtak cancelled for tomorrow: Neeraj Sharma, CPRO, Northern Railway 

7: 09PM: Here’s a ground report from Panchkula after Ram Rahim’s conviction. 

7: 06PM: Latest visuals on the ongoing violence in which Dera supporters set power sub-station office on fire in Sriganganagar, vehicle at the sub-station premises was also torched. 

7: 02PM: State govt will compensate for the losses of Media personnel & properties of others: Ram Niwas, Additional Chief Secy to Haryana Government. 

6: 53PM: 3 miscreants have been arrested, patrolling is being done in different areas: Madhur Verma, Delhi Police PRO. 

6: 42PM: Section 144 imposed in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar and Baghpat, in view of violent protests in Punjab and Haryana reports, ANI. 

6: 27PM: Death toll in violent protests in Panchkula has reached 17 and over 200 people have been injured.  

6: 20PM: Haryana Police are carrying out Flag March in Sirsa amid the ongoing violence conducted by the Dera Sacha Sauda followers after Ram Rahim’s verdict. 

Here’s a ground report on the ongoing violence from Panchkula. 

6: 10PM: Punjab and Haryana High Court have urged to attach Ram Rahim Singh’s properties in order to pay for the losses due to the ongoing violence.

6: 05PM: Drones and helicopters are carrying out aerial survey in Panchkula amid the ongoing violence conducted by the Dera Sacha Sauda followers after Ram Rahim’s verdict. 

5: 57PM: As per latest reports, 12 people have died in the ongoing violence and more than 100 people are injured in Panchkula. 

5: 53PM: Here’s the latest visuals of Rewa Express at Anand Vihar Terminal railway station which was set on fire moments ago. 

5: 46PM: Violence brings high alert in Noida and one DTC bus set on fire in Loni, Ghaziabad.

 

5:37 PM: Buses in northeast Delhi has been set on fire by Ram Rahim Singh supporters, confirms local police.

5:28 PM: Violence has reached the national capital now as reports suggest a train has been set on fire at Anand Vihar Railway Station. Meanwhile here’s the ground report on the ongoing violence in Panchkula following Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh’s conviction. 

5:14 PM: As per latest reports, over 10 people are killed in firing by security forces as enraged supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh resorted to large-scale violence following his conviction in a rape case, sources revealed. 

The sources said that security forces opened fire as Dera supporters went on the rampage, setting several vehicles and buildings on fire.

5:00 PM: Amid the ongoing violence, Home Minister Rajnath Singh in his meeting has also briefed PM Modi about the situation in Haryana. 

 

4: 53 PM: So far there have been no statement issued by Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar. 

4: 51 PM: Meanwhile the hospitals in Panchkula are over-boarded with people who have sustained injuries in the ongoing violence, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been airlifted to ‘unknown location’ while sources also suggest that he might be taken  to Rohtak jail as well. 

4: 46 PM: Curfew has been imposed in Punjab’s Muktsar, Bathinda, Mansa as security has been beefed up in Ludhiana after Ram Rahim rape verdict turned violent.

4: 34 PM: Heavy force has been deployed in Sirsa after Ram Rahim’s follwers turned violent. The Rapid Action Force has touched down the state of Haryana  as an alert sounded in adjoining districts to ensure no spillover of trouble in UP. 

Earlier, followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief attacked media vehicles and journalists after a CBI special court held the self-styled godman guilty of raping and sexually exploiting two female disciples.

Read here for more: Ram Rahim rape verdict: Dera supporters attack journalists

 

4: 26 PM: Security alert has been issued on Delhi borders after Ram Rahim’s verdict. 

4: 22 PM: Latest visuals from ANI of a camera person injured during the violent protests in Sirsa, Haryana. 

4: 11 PM: At least 3 OB Vans set alight by protesters in Panchkula, so far there have been 128 incidents of violence reported till now.

4:08 PM: Its seems like Dera Sacha Sauda chief followers have decided to take this issue in their hand as Malout Railway Station and one petrol pump is set on fire by protesters in Punjab after Ram Rahim’s verdict, similar incidents also reported in Bathinda. 

3:59 PM:  News reporters are witnessing lathi charge and local police are now firing tear gas in sector 5 Panchkula after crowd turned violent when the verdict came out. There are also reports of bullets firing in air to disperse crowds.

3: 51 PM: Punjab CM Amarinder Singh has appealed citizens to maintain calm and harmony in the state as he will not allow anyone to disturb peace & tranquility.

3:12 PM: Ram Rahim Singh has been taken into preventive custody by Army following the verdict. He will now be taken into Chandi Mandir military station from the court. After medical test, he will be taken to Ambala jail.

3:00 PM Ram Rahim Singh has been pronounced guilty. Quantum of sentence will be given on August 28. 

2:50 PM: Verdict be out in 10 minutes, will be kept secret for 45 minutes

2:36 PM: Proceedings have begun in court, verdict likely to come soon.

2:26 PM: Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar has asked Dera supporters to keep calm ahead of the verdict. 

2:16 PM: We bring you exclusive visuals of Ram Rahim Singh’s convoy reaching Panchkula court. 

2:02 PM: Only two cars from Ram Rahim Singh’s massive convoy have been  allowed inside Panchkula Court through a special entrance. 

1:32 PM: Section 144 has been imposed in Hanumangarh too. 

1:27 PM: Dera chief’s two-car convoy reaches Panchkula court. 

1:22 PM: Ram Rahim Singh’s convoy will arrive at Panchkula CBI court shortly. The cars in the convoy have been reduced to 20 cars from 200 cars. 

1:08 PM: Gurugram police holds a flag march ahead of the verdict. 

1:00 PM: Army coloums have moved into Panchkula as the timing for the verdict inches closer. 

12:45 PM HC has pulled up govt for delaying imposition of Sec 144. Police had said ‘we forgot to impose a clause of it’.

12:22 PM: High Court has directed the Haryana govt to use force to control protesters if required. It also observed that FIR can be registered if political leaders try to interfere. 

12:12 PM: Haryana govt has decided against usage of force to evict Ram Rahim Singh supporters from roads. The decision has been taken after assurance of peace from dera followers. 

11:51 AM: There does not seems to be an end to the high-voltage drama as Dera supporters have clashed with the police and blocked the highway in Ambala. 

11:39 AM: There is heavy security deployment outside Panchkula court where Dera followers have gathered in large numbers. 

11:30 AM: Security has been tightened in Delhi as well to avoid any untoward incident. 

11:11 AM: Haryana DGP maintains everything is under control. He added that proceedings will take place peacefully. 

10:39 AM The railways have cancelled over 200 Haryana-bound trains in view of the verdict. 

10:30 AM Despite requests by Ram Rahim Singh and administration Dera followers have refused to move out of Panchkula and have insisted they will leave only after the verdict. Many people fainted as his convoy passed Sirsa. 

10:00 AM: Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s followers create ruckus in Sirsa, try to stop Dera chief’s cavalcade from proceeding further 

9:12 AM  Dera Sacha Sauda spokesperson Dr Dilawar Insan in a conversation with NewsX urges people to respect the verdict and maintain calm. 

9:00 AM: Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has left for the CBI court in a massive 200-car convoy. He is likely to reach the court premises by 2:30 PM.