Global

Followers of convicted Indian guru end impasse with army

Followers of convicted Indian guru end impasse with army

Several north Indian cities were under a security lockdown August 24, a day before a court was expected to issue a verdict in a rape case involving the flamboyant leader of a quasi-religious sect.

Summary: Ram Rahim Sentencing: Widespread violence was witnessed after Dera chief's rape conviction.

Reuters and other media had earlier quoted government officials and lawyers as saying that the twin sentencing would run concurrently for 10 years.

The presence of almost 10,000 people in the headquarters has raised fears they may turn violent again after their leader is sentenced.

At least 32 people were killed Friday when clashes broke out in northern India after a court convicted a controversial religious leader of raping two of his followers, sparking fury among tens of thousands of supporters who had gathered for the verdict. Although Pakistan has seen charismatic figures rise and fall there has never been the "godlike" elevation seen with Singh, and analysts observe that the monotheism of Islam in a Muslim-majority state serves as an effective "innoculation" against any such figure emerging here.

Police used CS gas, deployed water cannon and fired rubber bullets in order to control the crowds. "Strict action will be taken against those responsible for violence", Commissioner of Police Amulya Patnaik said.

"The situation is coming under control", federal home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said in New Delhi.

Army and paramilitary soldiers were deployed across Panchkula as police put the northern town on a security lockdown for fear that a guilty verdict could spark violence. Police said calm was restored on Saturday.

More news: Belgium: Authorities Mired in 23 Anti-Terror Probes a Month

The protesters burned 28 vehicles and two government offices in Panchkula during rioting, he said.

The court is expected to sentence him on Monday.

Mobile internet services had also been suspended in the states of Haryana and Punjab to stop people from spreading rumours and causing unrest, senior government official Ram Niwas said. A bus and two train carriages were also set on fire in New Delhi, which remains on high alert.

Kumar added that a curfew and a ban on the gathering of five or more persons will remain in place in Sirsa throughout the coming days.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the head of a social welfare and spiritual group, commands a following that he claims in the millions, many of whom have been in the streets since Thursday, protesting his innocence. Such sects have huge followings in India and their leaders often maintain private militias for protection.

A curfew was imposed in Rohtak and in Sirsa town, where the guru's Dera Sacha Sauda sect has a sprawling ashram.

In 2014, six people were killed when followers of another religious leader, guru Rampal, fought pitched battles with police who were attempting to arrest him after he repeatedly failed to appear in court in connection with a murder trial.


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