Violence erupts in Punjab, Haryana after Dera chief ‘s conviction

CHANDIGARH: Violence erupted in several towns of Punjab and Haryana soon after a CBI special court on Friday held controversial godman Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty of the rape and sexual exploitation two female disciples in 2002.

Followers went berserk and also damaged OB vans of a private TV channel. The media OB vans are being overturned and completely destroyed by angry goons of Dera chief. Also media-persons of NDTV, News18 and others were attacks.

The death toll has risen to 11 and over 200 injured in the ongoing riots in Panchkula and nearby areas.

Attempts were made to burn two railways stations in Punjab’s Malout and Mansa towns by agitated followers of the self-styled godman.

Police lobbed tear gas shells, used water canons and batons in an attempt to bring the situation under control. The Dera followers pelted stones and broke security cordon.

Unconfirmed reports said six masked miscreants damaged and set on fire an Income Tax vehicle in Mansa.

Curfew has been imposed in Mansa, Bathinda and Ferozepore districts of Punjab, following largescale violence.

In Panchkula town where the CBI court is located, the sect followers set afire more than 100 vehicles after the court verdict.

The sect chief was taken into custody following his conviction by trial court judge Jagdeep Singh. The sentencing is set for Monday.

Security personnel used teargas to disperse thousands of angry Dera followers in Panchkula.

Punjab Chief Amarinder Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar appealed to the people to maintain calm.

With IANS inputs