Sirsa: The estimated 30,000 followers of self-styled guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who were inside the headquarters of his sect, the Dera Sacha Sauda in Haryana's Sirsa, started moving out yesterday evening. Around 6 pm, the security forces brought 100 state transport buses to ferry them out, resolving the stalemate that had been in continuing since Ram Rahim's conviction in a rape case on Friday. The Haryana police said they have made sufficient security arrangements to ensure peace today in Rohtak and Sirsa - the only two towns in the state that are still under curfew. The Dera chief will be sentenced at 2.30 pm inside a jail in Rohtak, where he is lodged.
Here are the top 10 updates in this big story:
- The followers of Ram Rahim had been refusing to vacate headquarters at Sirsa, a town 250 km from Haryana, despite repeated requests from the administration. The army, which had placed a tight security ring around the campus, said this morning that communication with them was on. Many of them had been trickling out over the last two days. Still, an estimated 30,000 followers were inside the 1000-acre campus till afternoon.
- A senior officer of the Haryana police said sufficient security cover has been given at Rohtak, where Ram Rahim will be sentenced tomorrow. "Our top priority is to ensure tight vigil during sentencing... Security personnel have been given a free hand to react according to the need of the situation," he said.
- Rohtak has been placed under multi-layered security; 28 companies of paramilitary troops have been stationed in the town and Dera followers are not being allowed to enter the district, senior police officer Navdeep Singh Virk told dailyaddaa. The Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered yesterday that the trial court judge, Jagdeep Singh, be flown to Rohtak.
- The police said a Special Investigation Team will be asked to investigate Friday's violence in view of the weapons found during searches at the various premises of the Dera Sacha Sauda. In searches at more than 130 campuses in Haryana and Punjab, security forces recovered staves, rods and material to make petrol bombs. Near the Sirsa campus, two AK-47s and a pistol were found in a car.
- After a Panchkula court found Ram Rahim guilty of raping two women followers on Friday, his supporters erupted in violence that left 38 people dead. More than 500 people have been arrested in Haryana since, news agency Reuters reported. This morning, a media van was attacked by men suspected to be followers of Ram Rahim, several kilometers from the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.
- More than a lakh of Ram Rahim's followers had congregated in Panchkula ahead of the court's Friday verdict. The High Court in a severe reprimand, told the Haryana government, "You let Panchkula burn for your political motives."
- In his monthly radio address Mann ki Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said, "Violence in the name of faith will not be tolerated, whether it is faith based on community, political ideology, individual or tradition". He promised that action will be taken against anyone who took the law in their own hands.
- Five guards from Ram Rahim's Z-Plus security detail have been arrested after they tried to obstruct the policemen taking him to jail. The bodyguards "wanted to take him in his car, but as he was convicted, we said he will be taken in the police car," Haryana police chief BS Sandhu said. They have been accused of attempt to murder, sedition, helping a criminal escape and under the Arms Act.
- After the conviction of the Dera chief on Friday, his supporters went berserk, attacking railway stations, petrol pumps and television vans in towns across Punjab and Haryana. Shocking pictures from Panchkula showed dozens of cars were burning as a bleeding man lay in the middle of a road. Dense smoke hung over the whole area
- In view of the widespread violence, the Punjab and Haryana court said the many properties of his sect will be seized to pay for the massive damages caused to public property. The state police today said they have started identifying the properties.