Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh: From 'baba of the bling' to rape convict

30 die in protests after Dera chief convicted of rape

Free for all: Broadcast vans of TV news channels going up in flames in Panchkula on Friday. (At right top) a policeman opens fire at rioters and a security man injured in the violence.

Free for all: Broadcast vans of TV news channels going up in flames in Panchkula on Friday. (At right top) a policeman opens fire at rioters and a security man injured in the violence.

At least 30 people were killed and 250 injured in Panchkula and other parts of Haryana on Friday after supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect went on the rampage as news broke that their chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had been convicted of rape by a CBI special court.

All hell broke loose after Ram Rahim’s followers pelted stones on security forces and set ablaze several parked vehicles and public property. They also damaged OB vans belonging to TV channels and attacked members of the public. Security personnel fired teargas shells, used water cannons and batons and opened fire in an attempt to bring the situation under control. The Army has taken over in Panchkula, and over 600 personnel have been deployed across the city.

Earlier tens of thousands of the godman’s supporters had converged on Panchkula in anticipation of the court verdict over the past few days, leading to widespread apprehension of trouble and violence. Ram Rahim, who drove from his Sirsa headquarters to Panchkula in the morning, was taken into custody immediately after the verdict.

 

The allegations against him surfaced in 2002 when anonymous letters reporting the rape of two sadhvis came to light. A CBI probe was ordered against the politically savvy godman in 2003 by the Punjab and Haryana Court.

“At least 17 people died in Panchkula’s civil hospital and nearly 250 have been injured,” said Vivek Bhadu, Chief Medical Officer. Apart from this, seven deaths were recorded at PGIMER Hospital in Chandigarh, while four deaths took place at Chandigarh’s Government Medical College, hospital officials said, requesting anonymity.

“CBI judge Jagdeep Singh, while holding the Dera chief guilty of rape, fixed August 28 as the day for pronouncement of the quantum of sentence,” CBI counsel H.P.S Verma told reporters.

Ram Rahim, who has been convicted under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC, could serve a minimum of seven years in jail. The court had last week reserved its judgment and directed the Dera chief to be present on August 25 for the judgment.

As death and destruction engulfed Panchkula, the district administration imposed curfew. Residents were stricken by fear as they saw smoke billowing into the sky.

Ram Rahim Singh was said to have been airlifted to Rohtak after his conviction, and is being kept at the Police Training College rest house in Sunaria, Rohtak.

In neighbouring Punjab, curfew was imposed in Ferozpur, Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa after incidents of arson were reported in a few towns. Dera followers attempted to set railway stations on fire at Malout, Balluana and Gidderbaha in Muktsar district. Incidents of violence were also reported from Rajasthan and Delhi, where two empty bogies of a train were set on fire at the Anand Vihar railway station.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 14, 2022 6:51:02 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/many-die-in-protests-after-dera-chief-convicted-of-rape/article62041834.ece