- Ram Rahim found guilty in rape case by Haryana court, sentencing Monday
- Angry followers engage in widespread violence and arson
- Godman allegedly getting special treatment in prison, say sources
A court in Panchkula has found Ram Rahim, 50, guilty of raping two women followers in 2002. He made a dramatic entry at the court yesterday afternoon, driving 250 kilometres to Panchkula from Sirsa, where his sect is headquartered, in a bulletproof car. There were about 200 cars in his convoy as ardent devotees followed him.
After being convicted and arrested, the Dera chief was taken to Rohtak by helicopter. Video from the court premises showed a woman carrying out several bags and pieces of luggage as he left.
Denying the reports of special treatment to the Dera chief, Haryana top cop, according to news agency ANI, said "some channels and papers reporting on special treatment to Ram Rahim. I clarify he is in Sunaria Jail, not in a guesthouse."
In court yesterday, the self-styled godman, dressed in white clothes and with his long hair loose, stood with his hands folded in prayer and his eyes closed when the judge started reading the verdict. He will be sentenced on Monday.
After the judgement was announced, thousands of his followers gathered in Panchkula erupted in violence, attacking and setting on fire vehicles and public property and clashing with the police. There were clashes in Sirsa too. 31 people have died and about 250 have been injured.
There has been violence in other parts of Punjab and Haryana too, as well as incidents or arson in Delhi and Rajasthan.
Large gatherings have been banned in several parts of Delhi along the border with Haryana.