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Rediff.com  » News » 30 dead as Dera followers run riot in Haryana, Punjab

30 dead as Dera followers run riot in Haryana, Punjab

Last updated on: August 27, 2017 13:45 IST

Dera Sacha Sauda followers went on a rampage setting fire to vehicles, buildings and railway stations following the conviction of their head -- Gurmeet Ram Rahim -- in a rape case.

IMAGE: Burning vehicles in violence following Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim's conviction in Panchkula. Photograph: PTI Photo

At least 30 people were killed and 250 injured on Friday, August 25, in widespread violence, arson and police firing in Haryana triggered by self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's coviction in a rape case.

 

While 28 people were killed in Panchkula, the epicentre of the violence, two died in Sirsa, doctors said.

Sirsa is the headquarters of the Dera Sacha Sauda of which Gurmeet Ram Rahim, 50, is its head.

Thousands of his folloers went on the rampage, setting fire to vehicles, buildings and railway stations soon after a special Central Bureau of Investigation court convicted him in a 2002 rape case.

IMAGE: Security forces react during the violence in Panchkula. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

The unrest which began in Panchkula where the verdict was handed down spread to other parts of Haryana and Punjab and even New Delhi where a bus and train were set on fire.

The identity of the dead or whether all of them were Dera supporters was not known immediately.

"Seventeen people are dead and at least 200 are injured," said Dr Vivek Bhadu, chief medical officer at the civil hospital in Panchkula.

IMAGE: Vehicles burn in the violence. Photograph: PTI Photo

While five were brought dead, 12 others succumbed to injuries at the civil hospital, Dr Bhadu said, adding that most of the deaths were due to bullet injuries.

Nearly 50 people were referred to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research hospital in Chandigarh while 33 others were rushed to the Government Medical College and Hospital, also in Chandigarh.

"Seven have died in PGIMER," Manju Wadwalkar, a spokesperson for the hospital said.

"While we could not resuscitate one person, another died during surgery and two others were brought dead," Dr Ravi Gupta, head of the Government Medical College and Hospital, said.

IMAGE: The unrest which began in Panchkula spread to other parts of Haryana and Punjab and New Delhi. Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo

Haryana Director General of Police B S Sandhu, who visited the civil hospital, said over a thousand Dera followers have been taken into custody.

"Dera followers have been flushed out of Panchkula," Sandhu said, adding that the situation is under control.

IMAGE: A vandalised train coach at the Anand Vihar station in New Delhi. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo

The police fired in the air, lobbed tear gas and let loose water cannons on the protesters who included a large number of women.

IMAGE: The police try to control the situation in Panchkula. Photograph: PTI Photo

Curfew was clamped in Panchkula.

Curfew was also imposed in some places in Sirsa. Kaithal was also brought under curfew on Friday evening.

At least 32 incidents of violence and arson were reported from the Malwa region in Punjab, the police said. However, no casualty was reported.

Curfew was clamped in Mansa, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Patiala, Sangrur and Barnala and Faridkot, strongholds of the Dera followers.

IMAGE: Violence was reported from the Malwa region in Punjab. Photograph: PTI Photo

But the curfew had little effect on the protesters who set fire to the Malout and Balluanna railway stations in Punjab.

Many motorcycles, cars and buildings, including an income tax building in Mansa, Punjab, were also set on fire.

Arsonists attempted to set fire to the Dagru railway station which falls between Moga and Ferozepur, the police said.

Six columns of the Indian Army -- between 500 and 600 soldiers -- were deployed in Panchkula.

IMAGE: Three vans owned by news television channels were set on fire. Photograph: PTI Photo

At least three OB vans owned by news television channels were set on fire. Two vans were overturned by mobs.

The India Today channel telecast visuals of its correspondent and cameraman being attacked while they were travelling in a van in Sirsa near the Dera's headquarters.

IMAGE: The income tax building in Mansa, Punjab was set on fire allegedly by Dera protesters. Photograph: PTI Photo

CBI Judge Jagdeep Singh, while holding the Dera chief guilty of raping a female follower more than 15 years ago, said the quantum of sentence would be pronounced on August 28.

The punishment could be a jail term of not less than seven years but may even extend to life imprisonment.

IMAGE: A Delhi Transport Corporation bus set on fire. Photograph: PTI Photo
WATCH: People indulging in violence won't be spared: Haryana CM

 

 

IMAGE: Dera supporters pelt stones at the security forces. Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo
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