Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh convicted LIVE: 30 killed in Dera backlash, Army called out in Punjab

New Delhi/Chandigarh: The special CBI court in Panchkula on Friday convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a 2002 rape case and ordered him to be taken into judicial custody. His supporters went on a rampage soon after the verdict and at least 30 people were killed and 250 injured in widespread violence, arson and police firing.

Dera followers set fire to vehicles, buildings and railway station. The unrest which began in Panchkula where the verdict was handed down, spread to other parts of Haryana and Punjab and even New Delhi where a bus and train were set on fire. Delhi Police implemented prohibitory order under Section 144 in 11 Delhi districts, which will be in force till 8 September.

Ram Rahim Singh was taken to Rohtak and lodged in a make-shift jail at a police training centre soon after his conviction.

Here are the latest updates and developments in the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh rape case verdict:

■ A high alert has been sounded and prohibitory orders clamped in Ghaziabad and Noida. “Orders have also been issued to keep all schools and colleges in the district closed tomorrow in view of the violence,” said Ghaziabad District Magistrate Ministhy S. The police said they were keeping tab on the situation in Ghaziabad and the supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda were being kept under surveillance.

■ The Army was called out and curfew was imposed in 10 districts of Punjab’s Malwa region, home to a large number of Dera Sacha Sauda followers, as violence spread to the state. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who was personally monitoring the situation, appealed to the people to remain calm and not to take the law in their hands. The chief minister spoke to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley to apprise them of the situation.

■ PM Narendra Modi condemned the violence following the conviction of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief and termed it as deeply distressing. Modi said he reviewed situation with the NSA and the home minister and urged all to maintain peace.

The instances of violence today are deeply distressing. I strongly condemn the violence & urge everyone to maintain peace.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 25, 2017
■ Delhi Police implemented prohibitory order under Section 144 in 11 Delhi districts, which will be in force till 8 September.

■ Haryana DGP B S Sandhu, who visited the civil hospital at Sector 6 in Panchkula, said that over a thousand Dera followers have been taken into custody. “Dera followers have been flushed out of Panchkula while over a thousand have been taken into preventive custody,” Sandhu said, adding the situation is under control.

■ Three people were arrested in connection with arson in Delhi after the conviction of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case, even as police claimed that the situation was under control. Madhur Verma, the Delhi Police’s Public Relations Officer, said a few incidents of buses being torched by some miscreants were reported as violence spread to the national capital. There was, however, no large gatherings of followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief in Delhi yet, Verma said.

■ The Railways said all trains to Rohtak in Haryana cancelled.

■ The Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) asked news channels across the country to be careful in airing the visuals of alleged attacks on journalists and camera persons in Panchkula, near Chandigarh, by followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh after he was pronounced guilty in a rape case by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court.

■ Sharad Yadav: “When religion and politics are mixed and politicians take assistance of religion in politics, then such incidents are bound to happen today or tomorrow. We have still time to learn that politicians should not take advantage and assistance in the name of religion and faith,” he said in a statement. (PTI)

■ Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi confirmed at least 13 people have been killed in violence reported from Panchkula and nearby areas in Haryana in the wake of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s conviction in a rape case.

“So far, 13 people have died in violence at Panchkula and nearby areas. The situation is tense but under control,” he told reporters in New Delhi. (PTI)

■ Mehrishi said 30 injured persons were brought to the PGI, Chandigarh, of whom 10 succumbed to their injuries, while 15 were brought to the Government Medical College in Chandigarh, of whom three succumbed to their injuries.

He added that there were incidents of arson and the situation was closely being monitored. (PTI)

■ The home secretary also spoke to the Delhi police commissioner, who informed him that sporadic incidents of violence were reported from Anand Vihar, Loni and a few other places, but the overall situation in the national capital was under control.

He also said there were reports of violence from Sriganganagar in Rajasthan.

Home Secretary-designate Rajiv Gauba also spoke to the chief secretary of Haryana and took stock of the situation. Sources said the home secretary had also briefed the prime minister’s office about the situation. (PTI)

■ Three miscreants arrested in connection with incidents of arson in Delhi: Police. (PTI)

■ Vigil intensified at All Delhi Metro stations alerted. Vigil intensified at stations along Uttar Pradesh and Haryana borders: CISF DG O P Singh. (PTI)

■ State govt will compensate for the losses of Media personnel & the properties of others: Ram Niwas, Addl. Chief Secy to Haryana Government. (ANI)

■ Death toll in Panchkula violence rises to 17, PTI quotes a Haryana government official.

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

Home minister Rajnath Singh has spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprised him of the situation in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Rajasthan. The violence has now reached Delhi and Rajasthan. The security at several metro stations in Delhi has been beefed up after two coaches of a train were set afire by violent supporters of Dera Chief in Anand Vihar, Delhi.

■ Army called out in Sirsa to control Dera Sacha Sauda followers, says SP. (PTI)

■ A vehicle was set on fire by a group of unidentified people in Rajasthan’s Sriganganagar. Sriganganagar district collector Gyana Ram said that it was yet to be ascertained whether the incident was in reaction to the conviction of the self-styled godman.

The gang torched the jeep and fled from the spot. The district collector said that the fire was doused by firemen soon.

Security has been stepped up across the district, which is home to a large number of followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, in view of the verdict. (PTI)

■ The Punjab and Haryana high court orders attachment of all properties owned by the Dera Sacha Sauda chief to compensate for all the destruction caused by the spiritual leader’s supporters. (News18)

Haryana Jail Minister says Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim will be lodged in a guest house at the Sunaria Jail in Rohtak, it adds.

■ ANI reports 12 dead, at least 100 injured in violent protests in Panchkula. Security at Delhi BJP HQ increased post violence at various places after Ram Rahim Singh’s conviction.

■ A train at Delhi’s Anand Vihar Railway Station has been set ablaze by Dera supporters, according to police. Two coaches of Rewa Express set on fire. (News18)

#RamRahimVerdict: Violence reported in Delhi, two buses set ablaze on Mandoli flyover in Delhi's Nand Nagri.

— ANI (@ANI) August 25, 2017
■ Home minister Rajnath Singh appeals to everyone particularly Dera supporters to maintain peace. (PTI)

■ Police say bus torched in northeast Delhi’s Loni Chowk, allegedly by Dera Sacha Sauda supporters. (PTI)

■ Security of Rohtak handed over to CRPF. Rohtak was the centre of widespread Jat quota violence in February 2016, according to HT.

■ Malout and Balluanna railway stations were partially torched by the angry followers as violence spread across Punjab in the aftermath of the court’s verdict, officials said.

“Two stations have been affected and we are still getting inputs on the extent of damage. No injuries have been reported so far,” Northern Railway spokesperson Neeraj Sharma told PTI.

■ The Northern Railway had cancelled 211 trains to and from Haryana since 23 August up to 27 August. Of the total number of trains cancelled, 91 are Express trains and 120 are passenger trains. The railways has also short terminated/short originated 24 trains.

“In all, the services of 236 trains have been affected one way or the other due to the law and order situation in Punjab-Haryana,” Sharma said.

■ At least five people were killed and around 100 injured. Police fired in the air and also lobbed tear gas and let loose water cannons on the protesters to quell the violence, which appeared to be spreading in Haryana, Punjab and even Rajasthan.

The duty doctor at the Civil Hospital in Panchkula said at least five people were killed. A reporter of CNN News 18 TV said a steady stream of ambulances was bringing scores of injured people to the hospital, soaked in blood. He described the scene as “chaos.” It was not clear if the injuries were due to police action or violence by Dera followers. (PTI)

■ Police use tear gas shells, water cannons to disperse Gurmeet Ram Raheem followers near Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa. (PTI)

■ Delhi was today put on high alert in the wake of incidents of violence in Haryana following the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case, police said.

A senior police officer said that even though there have been no specific inputs of Dera followers planning to create trouble here, security has been beefed up in the national capital as a precautionary measure.

The security in areas bordering Haryana has been heightened, the police said. (PTI)

■ A video-journalist of a TV channel was injured when his crew was attacked by followers of Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, moments after a CBI court convicted him in a rape case today. Vehicles of media organisations were also attacked. The injured video-journalist was being rushed to a hospital.

“We have deployed an adequate number of security personnel to tackle any eventuality. The situation has been under control so far,” said A S Dhillon, Inspector General of Police, Hisar range.

The Army was called out in Sirsa today with senior police officials carrying out a flag march outside the sect headquarters.

“Two companies of the Army from Hisar district have been called out to maintain law-and-order in Sirsa,” a top police officer said. (PTI)

■ Mob sets HT photojournalist Ravi Kumar’s scooter on fire. Sangrur sub-divsion office set on fire. Five bodies taken to general hospital in Sector-6, Panchkula. (Hindustan Times)

■ Two Railway stations in Punjab have been set on fire. Curfew imposed in Panchkula as well. ANI reports at least 10 injured in violence.

#RamRahimVerdict: 10 injured in violent protests, shifted to a hospital in Sector 6 Panchkula #Haryana

— ANI (@ANI) August 25, 2017
“We have taken necessary steps. I called the Home Minister a week back. Ask why the Haryana CM let people collect so close to the verdict. The situation is under control. No deaths or nothing set on fire in Punjab. There are no curfews in the state,” News18 quoted Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, as Dera Sacha Sauda rioters set fire to a petrol pump in Malot, Punjab.

■ Curfew imposed in three Punjab town — Ferozpur, Mansa and Bathinda, HT reports. Meanwhile, Dera chief Ram Rahim has been taken to Rohtak by a chopper, it adds.

■ Followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh today pelted stones and broke barricades soon after his conviction in the rape case following which police lobbed tear gas shells and fired in the air.

Immediately after the verdict, many Dera followers including large number of women started crying. Some followers went berserk and also allegedly damaged OB vans of a private TV channel.

Police lobbed tear gas shells, used water canons and batons in an attempt to bring the situation under control. The Dera followers pelted stones and broke security cordon.

CBI judge Jagdeep Singh, while holding the 50-year-old Dera chief guilty of rape, said the quantum of sentence will be pronounced on August 28, CBI counsel HPS Verma told reporters outside the court.

The punishment can be a jail term not less than seven years but may even extend to life imprisonment.

Army personnel and central paramilitary forces took positions around the CBI court complex in Panchkula, even as the area close to the complex was sealed. (PTI)

■ Stone pelting has been reported in Sirsa by angry Dera Sacha Sauda supporters, according to reports. Heavy lathi charge, tear gas, water cannons being used by security personnel to disperse Dera followers outside the court after the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Earlier the Punjab and Haryana high court pulled up the government for security arrangements.

■ The CBI judge Jagdeep Singh while holding the 50-year-old Dera chief guilty of rape said the quantum of sentence will be pronounced on August 28, CBI counsel HPS Verma told reporters outside the court. The punishment can be a jail term not less than seven years but may even extend to life imprisonment. (PTI)

■ Security has been beefed up and prohibitory orders issued in Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh districts of Rajasthan on Friday in view of the court verdict in the rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief. The administration has also suspended mobile Internet services to maintain law and order. Both the districts are home to many Dera followers.

Sriganganagar district collector Gyana Ram and Hanumangarh district collector Prakash Purhoit said police has been deployed and security measures taken. Senior officers of the district have been asked to keep a vigil and not leave district headquarter, they said, adding that the situation is completely under control.

Purohit said they have urged the Dera supporters to cooperate in maintaining peace and harmony.

■ Security measures have also been stepped up in Gurusar Modiyagaon, the birth place of Dera chief Ram Rahim, which is nearly 38-km from Sriganganagar.

North-Western Railway Spokesperson said passenger trains were partially cancelled or timing changed. Rajasthan Roadways spokesperson said buses plying on Haryana and Chandigarh routes have been suspended from last night. (PTI)

■ CBI court in Panchkula convicts Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case:CBI counsel HPS Verma. (PTI)

■ Police starts firing tear gas shells as crowd turns violent, upset by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s conviction.

■ Panchkula special CBI court pronounces Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ‘Insan’ guilty of rape and ordered him to be taken into judicial custody. The quantum of sentence will be announced on 28 August.

■ The verdict on Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh over rape charges in the CBI court is going to be kept undisclosed for close to 45 minutes to 1 hour, News18 reports.

Meanwhile, Dera followers are celebrating ahead of the verdict outside the court,says the channel.

■ Special CBI court begins proceedings against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh ‘Insan’ in a 2002 sexual exploitation case.

■ Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar: “I appeal to all, especially Dera Sacha Sauda followers, to maintain peace. Whatever the verdict, we will implement it. We are prepared for all eventualities,” News18 quoted him as saying.

मैं सभी प्रदेश वासियों से शांति बनाये रखने एवं प्रशासन का सहयोग करने की अपील करता हूँ, धन्यवाद!

— Manohar Lal (@mlkhattar) August 25, 2017
■ Clashes in 2007 between the Dera Sacha Sauda followers and members of the Sikh faith left at least three people dead in north India. (AP)

■ The Punjab and Haryana High Court asks the Dera Sacha Sauda lawyer S K Garg Narwana to convey to the sect followers not to indulge in any violence or breach of peace.

“In case anybody indulges in violence or breach of peace, the Haryana government can take stern action against them,” the bench said.

The court directed the officers of the Haryana government “to use weapon or force as per the demand of the situation”.

■ The court also asked officers concerned to videograph the court complex.

■ A full bench of the court comprising acting Chief Justice S Singh Saron, Justice Avneesh Jhingan and Justice Surya Kant was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Panchkula resident raising law and order concerns as over 1.5 lakh people have reportedly entered the district despite prohibitory orders.

■ Additional Solicitor General of India, Satya Pal Jain informed the court that since last evening the Centre has sent 40 additional companies to Haryana and nine to Punjab.

Out of these 40 companies, 35 have reached this morning and others are likely to reach shortly, Jain told the court.

■ As per the request of the Haryana government, the Army has been put on stand by and defence ministry officers are in touch with their Haryana counterparts, Jain told the court.

Haryana’s Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan told the court that certain areas occupied by Dera followers have been vacated.

He informed the court that the Haryana government has already prepared two plans to deal with both scenarios - if the Dera head is convicted or acquitted.

■ The bench will now further hear the matter at 4pm, Jain said.

■ Yesterday, the court had pulled up the Haryana government for not imposing Section 144 CrPC properly to prevent the huge gathering of Dera followers in Panchkula.

The court directed the Centre to immediately provide adequate forces required to deal with any law and order issue while also asking the Dera Sacha Sauda to apprise it of the steps being taken by it to defuse the situation.

The petitioner, a practising lawyer himself, had attached photographs of dera followers camping on the roads of Panchkula and also circulars issued by Punjab and Haryana highlighting the volatile situation.

■ Utsav Bains, the lawyer for victims in the Dera Sacha Sauda Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s rape case has said that the if the sect chief is acquitted, the case could be shifted to another state. (News18)

■ Patiala DC imposes curfew within 1 km radius of Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s Patiala residence, New Moti Bagh Palace. In Rajasthan, Section 144 imposed in Hanumangarh and Sri Ganganagar. Internet services are suspended for 48 hours in Sri Ganganagar, Hindustan Times reports.

■ Only two cars from Dera chief’s convoy allowed to enter the Panchkula court premises, News 18 reports.

■ Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has arrived in Panchkula to present himself before a special CBI court which is set to pronounce verdict in the 15-year old sexual exploitation case against him today.

Gurmeet, who left the sect headquarters in Sirsa by road this morning, reached Panchkula in the afternoon, officials said.

Amid heavy security, the 50-year-old Dera head had left the sect-headquarters at Sirsa, about 260 km from Chandigarh, at about 9am. The court is set to pronounce verdict in the case at around 2.30pm

■ The Chandigarh Police has warned Dera followers of stern action if they try to enter the union territory. An estimated 1.5 lakh Dera followers including men, women and children have gathered in Panchkula. The police maintained that it was on a high alert. “No Dera follower will be allowed to enter Chandigarh. If they (Dera followers) try to enter Chandigarh, stern action will be taken as per the law,” officials said.

■ Since mobile internet and data services have been suspended in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh, Dera followers complained of being unable to see the video clip of the sect head making an appeal to return to their homes.

Security forces were faced with a tough situation as many Dera followers remained reluctant to move, saying they had come to the town on their own and would move only after having sect head’s “darshan”.

■ The Punjab and Haryana High Court has told the Haryana Government to file FIRs on religious leaders if they make provocative statements and has praised the media for showing restraint and giving ‘the true picture’. The court also told the Haryana government to use force if necessary to control the situation if it arises, News18 reports.

■ The court is expected to pronounce verdict at around 2.30pm. “Flag march in Panchkula soon. Only two cars from Ram Rahim’s convoy will be allowed to enter Panchkula,” the Haryana DGP said.

■ As the Dera head left the sect headquarters at Sirsa, some of the followers standing on the roadside turned hysterical and held up the cavalcade for a few minutes. The followers, mostly young men, squatted on the road just in front of the cavalcade. However, the police immediately evicted them following which the Dera chief continued his onward journey to Panchkula.

■ There were around 200 vehicles in the Dera chief’s cavalcade, but Haryana DGP B.S. Sandhu said the cavalcade’s size will be cut along the way. However, he did not specify the number of vehicles in the cavalcade. “We will bring him (Dera chief) clear and in a smooth manner,” the DGP said.

The DGP said, 38 additional companies of central forces have arrived in Panchkula while Army columns, which arrived in the town early today, “will conduct flag march in Panchkula along with other security forces”. Army personnel have taken position around the CBI court complex in Panchkula, even as area close to the complex had been sealed.

■ Army columns moved into Panchkula early today as scores of Dera Sacha Sauda followers gathered in the town ahead of a court verdict in a rape case against the sect chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

■ Singh this morning left Sirsa to appear before a special CBI court at Panchkula in the sexual exploitation case against him. The 50-year-old Dera head left the sect-headquarters at Sirsa, about 260 km from Chandigarh, at about 9am amid tight security.

The Dera chief, who enjoys ‘Z’ category security, is also being accompanied a number of his own security guards in a cavalcade. It will take him around three hours to reach the court, a police official said.

■ The Army was deployed in Panchkula early today, officials said. The Army was called out at Panchkula and Sirsa as thousands of Dera followers, referred as ‘premis’, have descended in Panchkula, which has virtually turned into a fortress.

Also read | How Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh became a household name

■ The Dera followers made it to Panchkula over the past three days despite prohibitory orders under CrPC Section 144 being in force.

Ignoring appeals from the administration and their sect head, a large number of Dera Sacha Sauda followers continued to stay put in Panchkula today giving a tough time to authorities.

Haryana Police assisted by central forces launched a night-long operation to flush out scores of Dera followers gathered over the past four days in Panchkula, but the followers have largely refused to budge.

■ Shops, ATMs, cinema halls, petrol pumps, located near Dera headquarters in Sirsa were closed today

■ The sexual exploitation case was registered against Dera chief in 2002 by the CBI on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court after anonymous letters were circulated about the alleged sexual exploitation of two ‘Sadhvis’ (female followers) by Singh. However, the sect head has denied these charges.

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