CHANDIGARH: Treated as a God by his millions of followers in India and across the world, godman Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of rape by a CBI court in Panchkula on Friday, leading to widespread violence by his supporters.
Sikh community in India has the third largest population and the one sect of Gurmeet Rm Rahim Singh has crores of followers.
The DSS claims that it has over 7 crore followers across the country and abroad. A vast majority of these are in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan, reported IANS.
Nearly 1.5 lakh Dera followers who had camped in Panchkula went berserk and pelted stones and broke barricades soon after the CBI special court held godman guilty of the rape and sexual exploitation two female disciples, 15 years after the allegations were made in 2002.
Agitated followers of the 50-year-old cult leader set afire media OB vans and vehicles were completely destroyed. Police lobbed tear gas shells, and fired in the air. It used water canons and batons in an attempt to bring the situation under control. The angry sect followers pelted stones and broke security cordon.
The Haryana government authorities detained over 600 people and sealed 36 Dera ashram.
And the sect chief, according to police sources, was provided with an air-conditioned room in the prison near Rohtak town, around 70 km from Delhi.
“From arranging a special helicopter to providing an air-conditioned room and helping in using facilities meant for police officers, the Khattar government is extending all help to the lawfully disgraced Dera chief even after his conviction in such a serious crime as rape. This is appalling,” a police source, who saw some of these things happen on Friday and Saturday, told IANS.
The sect chief had openly announced support for the BJP in the 2014 elections. Millions of his followers in the region voted as per his diktat. He even went to cast his own vote.
The BJP, for the first time, came to power in Haryana on its own in the October 2014 assembly elections.
The self-styled godman is used to a life of ultra luxury and ostentatious public appearances.
With IANS inputs