Large-scale violence in Panchkula after Dera chief verdict
Panchkula (Haryana): Large-scale violence erupted here in Haryana on Friday as enraged followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh torched scores of vehicles and buildings in Panchkula after he was held guilty of rape.
Thousands of sect followers who had gathered outside the court complex in Panchkula attacked security personnel and media persons and then went on a rampage.
In no time, it was complete anarchy in and around Panchkula town, adjoining Chandigarh.
Witnesses and residents said about 150 buildings and vehicles were set on fire in Panchkula, sending huge plumes of smoke rising into the sky.
These included government and private vehicles as well as government buildings.
The vastly outnumbered security forces were seen running for cover in some places as thousands of Dera supporters pelted them mercilessly with stones.
Some media Outdoor Broadcasting vans were also set on fire. Some journalists were attacked. Media persons took shelter in nearby houses to save themselves from the mobs.
Security forces opened fire at some places at the protestors. Unconfirmed reports said three people were killed.
A total of 50 incidents of violence were reported within one hour in Punjab and Haryana after the court verdict became known. The numbers kept increasing as time passed.
Most attacks in Panchkula took place in Sectors 3, 4 and 5, which are all close to the court complex.
The police and paramilitary forces could not react adequately as the mobs indulged in violence.
Soldiers deployed in the area moved in quickly and took control of the court complex, where the sect chief was taken into custody following his conviction.
Violence was also reported from elsewhere in Haryana and Punjab
Attempts were made to burn two railway stations in Punjab's Malout and Mansa towns. Unconfirmed reports said six masked miscreants damaged and set on fire an Income Tax office in Mansa.
There were reports of violence in Mansa, Bathinda and Ferozepore districts in Punjab. Curfew was imposed in these towns.
Dera supporters attack journalists
Panchkula (Haryana): Enraged followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on Friday attacked media vehicles and journalists after a CBI special court here held the self-styled godman guilty of raping and sexually exploiting two female disciples.
The Outdoor Broadcasting vans of three or four television news channels were attacked by the supporters outside the court complex here, adjoining Chandigarh. Some OB vans were set on fire.
A total of 15 incidents of violence were reported within 45 minutes in Punjab and Haryana after the court verdict became known.
A few journalists were injured in the attack, witnesses said. Cameras of photo-journalists and TV cameramen were damaged by the sect followers.
Most attacks took place in Sectors 3, 4 and 5, which are all close to the court complex.
The police and paramilitary forces could not react adequately as the mobs indulged in violence. But tear gas was fired at one place, leading to stone throwing by Ram Rahim Singh's supporters.
Soldiers deployed here moved in quickly and took control of the court complex, where the sect chief was taken into custody by security personnel following his conviction.