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Violence in Punjab, Haryana over Dera chief's conviction; at least 28 dead

Violence spreads to Delhi; Army called out in Sirsa to control Dera Sacha Sauda


Ram Rahim violence, Ram Rahim followers, Dera chief
Security personnel stand gaurd as smoke is seen after followers went violent following court verdict in the rape trial of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, in Sirsa. Photo: PTI

At least 28 people died and over 250 got injured in widespread rioting after enraged followers of self-styled godman Singh went on a rampage to protest his rape conviction on Friday.

Enraged by the rape conviction of self-styled godman Gurmit Singh today, thousands of his followers went on the rampage, hurling stones and vandalising media vehicles.

Six army columns have been deployed in Police say bus torched in northeast Delhi's Loni Chowk, allegedly by supporters. Also, a train has been set afire at Anand Vihar Railway Station in Delhi where two empty bogeys were torched. Army has been called out in Sirsa to control

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, and even Rajasthan.

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.

"The flow of injured is not stopping," said the reporter in his dispatch, which also showed pictures of vehicles burning, and at least one person lying motionless by the roadside. The report said the man was dead.

Immediately after a here convicted the chief, many of his followers, including a large number of women, broke police barricades and security cordons.

At least three OB vans of private television channels were damaged. Two vans were overturned by a mob.

The India Today Group's TV channel showed pictures of its correspondent and cameraman being attacked while they were travelling in a van in Sirsa, the Dera's headquarters. The camera captured images of the windshield and windows being struck by men with sticks.

The glass shattered and one of the occupants of the van was heard moaning. The video then showed his bloodied face.

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

The police also used water cannons and batons on the protesters to bring the situation under control.

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

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

Army personnel and central paramilitary forces took positions around the complex in Panchkula, as the area close to the complex was sealed.

First Published: Fri, August 25 2017. 19:25 IST