At least 17 people were killed and over 150 injured in the violence unleashed by the followers of Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh after he was convicted in a rape case by a special CBI court in Panchkula on Friday. Thousands of enraged supporters went on a rampage and torched many government buildings, including a local telephone exchange and LIC office. Media vehicles were also attacked and journalists were also injured in the violent attacks. The violence moved beyond Panchkula to various parts of Haryana, Punjab and even Rajasthan.
Clashes erupted in Sirsa and Panchkula soon after the verdict was declared as Ram Rahim’s followers started attacking media and police personnel. Tear gas shells were fired by police as NDTV reported that its OB van had been vandalised by the Dera followers near the court premises in Panchkula. Punjab was severely hit by violence as Dera followers torched railway stations of Malout and Balluanna and set private vehicles on fire in Mansa, Punjab. The violence kept increasing as journalists were beaten up badly and there was heavy stone-pelting in Panchkula. Agitated mobs barged into government buildings in Sector 2 and 5 of Panchkula and vandalised buildings. Gunfire was also heard.
The violence continued to peak as more vehicles were set on fire in Panchkula and the Income Tax office in Punjab’s Mansa was also set alight. “Twelve people are dead and at least 150 are injured,” said Vivek Bhadu, Chief Medical Officer at the civil hospital in Panchkula. Curfew has been imposed in Punjab’s Bhatinda, Mansa, Ferozepur, Muktsar, Malout and Budhlada.
Sirsa, the Haryana city housing Dera Sacha Sauda’s headquarters, was also severely hit by violence.
— ANI (@ANI) August 25, 2017
The violence soon reached Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) as a bus was torched in northeast Ghaziabad’s Loni chowk and two empty train coaches of Rewa Express in Anand Vihar railway station were also set on fire. A bus was set ablaze near Babu Jagjivan Ram Memorial hospital and two buses were also also set on fire in Delhi’s Nand Nagri.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted in a 2002 rape case by a special CBI court in Panchkula, which triggered widespread violence in Punjab, Haryana, parts of Rajasthan and Delhi-NCR.