Self-styled godman and rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh will be sentenced this afternoon at a jail in Haryana's Rohtak, which has been turned into a fortress with multi-layered security and the police have warned that they may shoot at any sign of trouble. The judge, who on Friday found the chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect guilty of raping two women followers 15 years ago, will fly in a helicopter to Rohtak today to sentence Ram Rahim; the order is expected after 2.30 pm.
Over a lakh of the Dera chief's followers had gathered in Panchkula, where Judge Jagdeep Singh had given Friday's verdict, and they ran riot after Ram Rahim was convicted, burning vehicles and clashing with the police in deadly violence that left 38 people dead and over 250 injured.
In Rohtak today, top officers have said anyone who tries to cause trouble could be shot. About 10 Dera campuses all over Rohtak district have been searched and sealed and around 100 people are in preventive custody as the police try to ensure that Ram Rahim's followers have no opportunity to gather in big numbers, senior police officer Navdeep Singh Virk told NDTV.
"If the situation so arises that I need to use firearms... my officers are briefed that if needed they shall use whatever force required to counter the situation," Mr Virk said, adding that there are multiple layers of security in Rohtak city and around the Sunaria jail, about 10 kilometres away, where Ram Rahim is lodged in a special cell.
"There is access control around the jail," said Mr Virk. The Border Security Force (BSF) has set up bunkers right outside the prison. Twenty-eight paramilitary companies, with about 2,400 personnel, have been deployed and 18 columns or about 1,800 soldiers of the Army are on standby.
Rohtak Deputy Commissioner Atul Kumar said, "We will not allow anyone to create any sort of trouble in Rohtak. Anyone breaking law or indulging in acts of violence or arson will himself be responsible for his fate. Anyone creating trouble will be given a warning first and if he still pays no heed, then he will have to face the bullet."
"People do not have any reason to be afraid as stringent security measures have been taken," Mr Kumar said, adding that the situation in Rohtak is "completely under control" and the police are fully prepared to tackle any situation.
The officer asked people not to visit the district if they do not have urgent work. People entering the district are being asked to show proof of identity and the reason for visit. If they are unable to explain why they are coming into Rohtak, they will be arrested, he said.
All entry points into the city are being closely monitored and the National Highway 10 has been cordoned off for about 10 kilometres.
Schools and colleges are closed today in Rohtak, but while large gatherings are banned, there is no curfew.