Close to 30 people killed and many wounded as supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh protest the verdict against the MSG.
Nearly 30 people have been killed in India as violent protests erupted after a court convicted the self-styled “godman” Ram Rahim of raping two female followers.
Friday’s verdict angered and raged thousands of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s supporters who said he was innocent.
Singh was found guilty in a case dating back to 2002 at the headquarters of his Dera Sacha Sauda group in the northern town of Sirsa.
Supporters rampaged in response, setting fire to government buildings, attacking railway stations, petrol stations and television vans in towns across the northern states of Punjab and Haryana soon after the verdict was announced, witnesses said.
Hundreds of Indian police and soldiers patrolled Panchkula, the town where the court gave its verdict on Singh, as local officials feared an outbreak of violence.
Police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protesters.
The violence left at least 30 dead, including some with bullet wounds, and more than 250 injured, according to BS Sandhu, a top Haryana police official.
He said more than 1,000 of the guru’s supporters had been detained in Panchkula on charges of arson and destruction of public property.
A spokesman for the guru’s , Dera Sacha Sauda, urged his supporters to remain calm. “I just want to request everyone to maintain peace at the moment,” said Dilawar Insan. “We will explore what legal options are available to us.”
Dozens of cars were burning in Panchkula town while a bloodied body lay in the middle of a road.
“The [police] have updated us on the law and order situation in Panchkula… The situation is still tense, but not out of control,” said federal home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said in New Delhi.
A curfew was imposed in four districts in Punjab that are strongholds of the Dera Sacha Sauda group.
“There has been violence in some towns in Punjab, we are taking all measures to maintain peace,” said the state chief minister Amarinder Singh.
A defence spokesman said six columns of the Indian army, amounting to about 600 men, had been deployed in Panchkula to help police and paramilitary contain violent mobs.
Section 144 enforced in Ghaziabad, Noida
Ghaziabad District Magistrate Ministhy S. Nair, while proclaiming the enforcement of preventive measures in the district, said initially the prohibitory measures would be in place for two weeks and the situation would be reviewed later.
District Magistrate B.N. Singh said Section 144 was already in place and in view of the developments in the adjoining state, it has been extended.
Source: News agencies & IANS
This is Developing Story…..do log in to get more updates only on The Indian Panorama