Dozens Die in Riots Following Indian Spiritual Guru's Rape Conviction

Dozens Die in Riots Following Indian Spiritual Guru's Rape Conviction

Dozens Die in Riots Following Indian Spiritual Guru's Rape Conviction

Police fired teargas to disperse his supporters.

Police initially used tear gas and water cannons, before firing bullets in the air to control the furious crowds.

At least 38 people were killed and more than 200 injured, triggering criticism that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party, which also governs the state of Haryana, was either unable or unwilling to act against Dera chief 's followers.

"We will not withdraw forces today.the situation can easily go out of hand even now", said Kalsi. The Indian spiritual guru, who has also starred in a couple of Bollywood movies as the protagonist, is found guilty of raping two women. His sentencing is to be held August 28, prosecutor H.P.S. Verma said. "Also, Rewa Express stationed in the yard at Anand Vihar railway station was set on fire after the verdict". "I appeal to all Punjabis to maintain peace & harmony in (the) state. We will explore what legal options are available to us".

The 50-year-old Singh is known as the "guru in bling" for his penchant for bejewelled costumes and claims to have more than 50 million loyal followers worldwide. Based out of northern India, the sect runs 46 centers across India and the world. It's not unusual for leaders of these sects to often have small, heavily armed private militias protecting them.

Indian authorities have been on high alert in Sirsa and Panchkula, the city where Singh faced judgement, since rioting and arson broke out minutes after the self-styled godman was found guilty of raping two of his followers.

"For years, chief ministers of both Punjab and Haryana, along with several other politicians of all parties, have vied for Singh's support for his huge follower base, just for vote bank politics".

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Indian authorities deployed thousands of riot police and shut down mobile internet services in Haryana and Punjab till Tuesday, according to Indian media.

In New Delhi, Singh's supporters set fire to buses and two empty train carriages.

Local administrators have asked that schools, colleges and offices remain closed on Thursday and Friday. The case was investigated by CBI, India's top agency.

Such cases against religious leaders have prompted violence in the past.

In 2014, six people were killed when followers of another religious leader, guru Rampal, fought pitched battles with police who were attempting to arrest him after he repeatedly failed to appear in court in connection with a murder trial.

Singh's conviction in a rape case is the latest in a series of cases involving spiritual leaders who have been accused of abusing followers, amassing untaxed money and finding favour with politicians.

The sentence was pronounced amid intense security at a prison in the northern town of Rohtak where the guru, who calls himself Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, has been held since his conviction Friday.

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