Ram Rahim Guilty Of Rape, 30 Dead, 250 Injured As Sect Erupts: 10 Facts

The violence in Haryana and Punjab over Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's conviction in a rape case also spilled over to parts of Delhi and Rajasthan.

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Ram Rahim Guilty Of Rape, 30 Dead, 250 Injured As Sect Erupts: 10 Facts

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Violence erupted after Dera chief Ram Rahim's conviction in rape case by Haryana court

Panchkula:  Just as feared, large clashes, arson and violence erupted in the town of Panchkula in Haryana on Friday immediately after spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of raping two women followers in a case dating back to 2002. Thirty people are dead and 250 injured, officials said, in the violence that quickly spread to other cities. Ram Rahim will be sentenced on Monday and was flown out of Panchkula in a government helicopter to a guesthouse in Rohtak and later moved to a special prison cell.
Here is your 10-point cheatsheet on this big story:
  1. By 5 pm yesterday, the army was called in to Panchkula, on the outskirts of Chandigarh, to help regain control after the riots caused by more than 1.5 lakh followers of the guru. Before that, the police used tear gas and water cannons to try and disperse mobs of Ram Rahim supporters, but was easily outnumbered near the courthouse.
  2. After Panchkula, where the violence subsided by about 7 pm with Ram Rahim's supporters being moved out, the army was deployed in Sirsa, Ram Rahim's massive base. Large and intense clashes took place between the police and members of Ram Rahim's sect, the Dera Sacha Sauda. Several buildings were set on fire. Two people were killed, both of them sect members.
  3. In tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the violence, saying it was "deeply distressing" and added the situation was being closely monitored. Ram Rahim's sect will appeal against Friday's verdict. A lawyer for him said people have every right to express their outrage, according to news agency Reuters.
  4. In Delhi, a bus and two coaches of an empty train were set on fire. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed for calm; the capital has been placed on high alert. Public gatherings have been banned in several parts of Delhi along the border with Haryana.
  5. The skyline of Panchkula was covered in thick smoke by 5 pm. Dozens of cars were burning. At the main hospital in Panchkula, medical staff hurriedly transferred the injured patients from ambulances on to wheelchairs and stretchers.
  6. The media was attacked; an NDTV live broadcast van was set on fire and totally destroyed. An NDTV engineer was held down by a mob and hit on the head.
  7. The police was caught on camera retreating as Ram Rahim supporters advanced menacingly. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has indicated the policemen involved will be punished. The court has said the many properties of Ram Rahim's sect will be seized to pay for the massive damages caused today to public property.
  8. The violence spread quickly after the verdict to other towns including Bathinda in Punjab. Two train stations were set on fire in Punjab in the towns of Malout and Balluanna. Nearly 200 trains that run through Punjab and Haryana have been cancelled. The army was called in 10 districts of Punjab and several supporters of the Dera were arrested, the state government said. 
  9. Ram Rahim arrived for the verdict in a 200-car cavalcade. By last night, Panchkula was over-run by more than one lakh followers of Ram Rahim - clusters of them proliferated over the last two days, despite the Haryana government's claims of roping off the city.
  10. Yesterday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court attacked the administration for failing to make adequate arrangements against the overwhelming presence of Ram Rahim devotees in Panchkula. In a video message at midnight, Ram Rahim appealed to his followers to return home, His request did not deter his devotees in Panchkula who said they would remain in the town to show support for him. Many also said they wanted to glimpse him in person.

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