Ahead Of Dera Chief Verdict, Large Gatherings Banned All Over Punjab: 10 Points

Ahead Of Dera Chief Verdict, Large Gatherings Banned All Over Punjab: 10 Points

Ram Rahim Singh Rape Case Verdict: He been asked to personally appear in court to confront charges.

Thousands of supporters of spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh have started gathering at a town in Haryana where a court is expected to decide tomorrow whether he is guilty of raping two women followers nearly 15 years ago. More followers have gathered at Sirsa, at the sprawling headquarters of the "Guru of Bling" - as the chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect has come to be known. Punjab and Haryana, bracing for possible rioting, have imposed prohibitory orders.

Here are the 10 big developments in this story:

  1. Punjab has declared that all schools and colleges will be closed for the verdict, and large gatherings have been banned across the state.

  2. Many offices will also be closed and the leave of all police officers has been cancelled. Bus services have been stopped to capital Chandigarh and Panchkula, where a court is to announce the verdict. At least 7,000 policemen are posted in the areas leading to the court.

  3. "People are coming from all over for Guru-ji's court hearing," said Rajinder Singh, a Dera follower who claims "lakhs" of others like him like are expected by Friday.

  4. In Chandigarh, a massive cricket stadium in the heart of the city is being prepped as a temporary jail to house law-breakers.

  5. Massive anti-sabotage checks have been carried out at the Panchkula court premises.

  6. In villages where the Dera Sacha Sauda is especially popular, the police is conducting flag marches to establish its presence.

  7. The Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana have publicly appealed for calm among Dera Chief Ram Rahim.

  8. The case against Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Ram Rahim dates to 2002 and accuses him of sexually exploiting two women at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa about 260 kms from Chandigarh. Ram Rahim has denied the charges. He has been told to be present in court for the verdict on Friday - it's unclear whether he will be granted the option to video-conference instead.

  9. When asked if Dera chief will appear in court, a spokesman of Dera Sacha Sauda said, "We have always followed due process of law, never have we gone out of law's purview and never ever will we do so."

  10. About whether the guru to lakhs would urge his followers to remain peaceful irrespective of the verdict, the spokesperson said, "Guru-ji always talks about humanity and things which will benefit humanity. He talks about tree plantation, organ donations, blood donation and helping out weaker sections".