Dera Sect Appeals For Calm, Will Appeal Against Verdict

Casey Dawson
August 26, 2017

A Special CBI Court in Chandigarh's Panchkula district today convicted self-proclaimed godman and Chief of the Dera Sachha Sauda, Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of rape in a 2002 case. The army is on standby at the request of Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar. He had also said that the prohibitory orders does not apply to "devotion of the Dera followers".

The court verdict against dera head triggered violence by his followers leaving 30 dead and over 200 injured. The BJP is in power in Haryana, where the verdict was announced on Friday afternoon. "No one is above the law and strict action will be taken against anyone who tries to take the law into his hands", he added. He described the scene as "war zone".

Television channels showed motorcycles, cars and buses in flames as hundreds of police personnel in riot gear watched helplessly. Some bodies, bleeding and with bullet wounds, lay on the roads, witnesses said.

As feared, the dera followers became violent and starting damaging public and private property.

His followers went on a rampage as they attacked police, journalists and even destroyed vehicles. Smoke could be seen rising in another part of town.

"The government is putting in its best efforts..."

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Singh was accused of raping two female followers in a case dating back to 2002 at the headquarters of his Dera Sacha Sauda group in the town of Sirsa.

Ram Rahim Singh, who had denied the charges, was taken into custody and is being housed in a jail in the nearby town of Rohtak until his sentencing hearing on Monday, prosecutor HPS Verma said.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF) and the state police were present inside the premises of the court, when Justice Jagdeep Singh read out the verdict.

The 50-year-old self-styled "godman" is known as the "guru in bling" for his penchant for bejewelled costumes, although the source of his apparently vast wealth is unclear. Supporters started gathering in the streets outside the court in Panchkula on Thursday.

The Centre has extended its support and provided security in both the states.

Meanwhile, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh has appealed to "all Punjabis to maintain peace and harmony in state".

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