There is huge security presence near the headquarters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's Dera Sacha Sauda
Sirsa/Chandigarh: A large number of Army troops patrolled near the main base in Haryana's Sirsa town of the Dera Sacha Sauda, a day after its followers went on the rampage over its leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's conviction in a rape case. The situation in Sirsa and Panchkula - where the verdict was announced and there was maximum violence - is "very tense but under control", the Home Ministry said today. 36 people have died and over 250 have been injured in the clashes that also spread to other parts of Haryana and Punjab.
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The Army and district authorities have been making announcements through loudspeakers, asking those inside to leave the premises.
Near the Sirsa campus, 2 AK-47s and a pistol have been found in a car. Centres of the sect in different cities, referred to as Naam Charcha Ghars, are being searched and sealed. Fifteen Dera supporters have been arrested since last night, the police said.
Ram Rahim, the chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, will be sentenced on Monday; he has been kept in a special prison cell in Rohtak and his Z security - which made him one of India's most protected people - has been withdrawn.
In a severe reprimand to the state government today, the Punjab and Haryana High Court said, "You let Panchkula burn for your political motives." The court has said the many properties of Ram Rahim's sect will be seized to pay for the massive damages caused to public property.
Curfew is in place in Panchkula, Sirsa and Kaithal in Haryana as well in some towns in Punjab. Large gatherings have been banned in 11 districts of Delhi, nine districts of Uttar Pradesh and one in Rajasthan after violence along the border with Haryana.
Authorities relaxed the curfew for four hours today in some towns in Punjab to enable residents to buy food and other essential items.
After the conviction of the Dera chief on Friday, his supporters rampaged in response, attacking railway stations, petrol pumps and television vans in towns across Punjab and Haryana. Dozens of cars were burning in Panchkula town while a bloodied body lay in the middle of a road.
In tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the violence, saying it was "deeply distressing" and added the situation was being closely monitored. The Prime Minister's officer has reportedly instructed central and state officials to work round the clock to restore law and order.