Violence in Dera case is deeply distressing, urge everyone to maintain peace: PM Modi

New Delhi: In the wake of widespread violence and arson in Haryana triggered by the rape conviction of self-styled ‘godman’ Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged everyone to maintain peace.

He tweeted, ” The instances of violence today are deeply distressing. I strongly condemn the violence ad urge everyone to maintain peace. The law and order situation is being closely monitored. I reviewed the situation with the NSA and Home Secretary.”

“Urged officials to work round the clock to restore normalcy and provide all possible assistance that is required,” he added.

Thousands of followers of Ram Rahim 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.

Curfew was clamped in Panchkula.

Curfew was also imposed in place in Sirsa while Kaithal town was also brought under curfew this evening.

Sirsa is the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda of which Ram Rahim, 50, is its chief.

At least 32 incidents of violence and arson were reported from Malwa region of Punjab, police said.

Curfew was clamped in Mansa, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Patiala, Sangrur and Barnala and Faridkot, the areas considered as stronghold of the Dera followers.

But the curfew had little effect on the protesters, who also set fire to Malout and Balluanna railway stations in Punjab, according to the Northern Railways. Many motorcycles, cars and buildings, including an Income Tax building in Mansa in Punjab, were also set on fire.

Arsonists attempted to set fire to Dagru railway station which falls between Moga and Ferozepur, police said.

However, a Sewa Kendra was set on fire near Faridkot.

Six columns of Army, comprising a total of 500 to 600 soldiers were deployed in Panchkula.

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

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 Panchkula.

CBI judge Jagdeep Singh, while holding the Dera chief guilty of raping a female follower more than 15 years ago, said the quantum of sentence would be pronounced on August 28.

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