Ram Rahim Singh: fatal clashes follow Indian guru’s rape conviction

More than 23 people died in violent protests over the rape verdict of a popular religious leader in north India.

The victims belong to sect of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Angry supporters rampaged through Panchkula town, near Chandigarh.

Police confirmed more than 2,500 of Singh’s followers have been arrested.

Earlier on his followers claiming he is innocent smashed cars and set media vans alight.

Ahead of Friday’s verdict more than 200,000 of his followers had flocked Chandigarh area.
At Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters of his sect Singh was found guilty of raping two women, who says he has millions of disciples, in 2002.

Fearing the clashes thousands of agency officials, army, police and paramilitary forces were already deployed in the area. In an attempt to restore control they fired tear-gas canisters and water cannon into the crowd, told Ravinder Singh Robin from Panchkula.

However BS Sandhu region’s police chief said the violence has now settled down and situation is under control.

Internet and mobile services were suspended during curfews imposed in several areas of Chandigarh city and across multiple areas of the state of Punjab amid the crisis.
Delhi was also hit by violence, which spread to the capital and two train coaches were set on fire, according to reports.

50 years old Mr Singh was taken into protective custody in advance by the army following the conviction to avoid any situation.

The court is expected to sentence him on Monday.

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