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Dera chief convicted in rape case, punishment on Aug 28

25 August 2017

The self styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, chief of the influential Dera Sacha Sauda sect, was alleged for molesting two of his sadhvis (women followers) 15 years ago.

The violence broke out in Panchkula district near Chandigarh, the capital city of Punjab and Haryana.

The Haryana police have taken the Dera chief into custody.

Ram Rahim Singh attends the premiere of a movie in New Delhi in May. He says he'll be taken to the central jail in the town of Rohtak.

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Back in 2002, the then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee received an anonymous letter, accusing the guru of repeated rape upon his female followers.

Over 100 people were reported injured in the violence. Additionally, curfew has also been imposed in various places, including Patiala, Sirsa, Ferozpur, Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa according to reports.

Apart from the 2002 rape allegations, Gurmeet Ram Rahim is also accused of murdering a journalist, Ranjit Singh, in October 2002, who was investigating the charges against him. In September, the same year, he was charged with rape and criminal intimidation; however, he persistently stated in court that the charges were baseless and false.

Panchkula administrators had feared a guilty verdict would trigger violence among the tens of thousands of followers who had camped overnight awaiting the verdict.

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The supporters of Dera chief started attacking media vans and they have set Income tax office in Panchkula ablaze.

Armed forces, around 53 companies of the paramilitary forces and 50,000 personnel of the Haryana Police were deployed in Haryana and Punjab ahead of the judgement on Friday in Panchkula.

Police have used teargas and water cannon to contain the rioting. The letter, which appeared to have been written by a woman follower of Baba Ram Rahim, narrated how the Dera chief sexually exploited his women followers at the sprawling Sirsa ashram.

Since mobile internet and data services have been suspended in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh, Dera followers complained of being unable to see the video clip of the sect head making an appeal to return to their homes.

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The situation was worsening in parts of Punjab, mainly in Malwa region, the stronghold of Dera Sacha Sauda.

Dera chief convicted in rape case, punishment on Aug 28