Sonia Gandhi calls for peace, condemns violence

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi today expressed grave concern over the violence in Panchkula and other parts of Haryana and appealed for peace.

In a statement here, Gandhi said several people including children had died in the violence, and “there was widespread destruction of public property and senseless attacks” on the media.

Gandhi, while appealing to the people to maintain peace, also spoke to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and asked the government of Haryana and the Chandigarh administration to ensure the safety of all citizens.

At least 28 people were killed and 250 injured in widespread violence, arson and police firing triggered by the rape conviction of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Thousands of followers of Ram Rahim, who is the head of the Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda, went on the rampage, setting fire to vehicles, buildings and railway stations soon after a special CBI court convicted him in a 2002 rape case.

Police responded by opening fire.

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.