Dera Sacha Sauda: Gurmeet Ram Rahim found Chief Guilty

Gurmeet Ram Raheem

Situation is tense near Dera headquarters in Sirsa. The self-styled guru was also under investigation in 2015 for allegedly encouraging 400 followers to undergo castrations at his ashram so they could get closer to God.Religious sects like the Dera Sacha Sauda have huge followings in India. One of the sadhvis said in a statement that when she entered his chamber, the door automatically closed and she found him watching a pornographic movie on a big screen.

An official tweet on the President of India's handle said: "Violence and damage to public property after court verdict is highly condemnable; appeal to all citizens to maintain peace #PresidentKovind".

"Strict action is being taken against these persons".

The police fired in the air and lobbed tear gas shells on sections of the crowds, many of them camping since last night on the streets of Panchkula.

Panchkula looked like a war zone within hours after the verdict. So were thousands of security personnel. Some journalists fled for their lives and took shelter in nearby homes.

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As per the reports, as many as 17 people have been killed and many have been injured. Some bodies, bleeding and with bullet wounds, lay on the roads, witnesses said.

Police had erected heavy metal barricades topped with barbed wire along main roads in Panchkula, a quiet residential suburb of Chandigarh, which is the common capital of Haryana and Punjab states. Residents reported seeing plumes of black smoke rising into the sky at several places. Singh is the current chief of the group.

More than 200,000 of his followers had flocked to the Chandigarh area ahead of Friday's verdict. He has been arrested and will be sentenced on Monday. Parts of Punjab and Haryana have been shut down because of the riots, while the Dera Sacha Sauda chief is in jail in Rohtak, Haryana.

Panchkula administrators had feared that a guilty finding would trigger violence among the tens of thousands of followers who had camped overnight awaiting the ruling.

The sect chief was directed to appear personally in the court in a case pertaining to alleged rape and sexual exploitation of a former female disciple.

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