Even as 30 people died and 200 been injured in violence in Haryana after a Central Bureau Investigation court in Panchkula on Friday convicted Dera Sacha Sauda leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of raping two of his followers 15 years ago, various Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and supporters, including Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, have begun to blame this violence on everyone but Dera Sacha Sauda followers.

“Anti-social elements got mixed up with followers of Dera Sacha Sauda and resorted to violence disrupting peace,” Khattar is reported to have said to the media late on Friday evening, after an initial neutral statement that he was monitoring the situation.

Around one lakh of the self-styled godman’s followers had gathered in Panchkula in anticipation of the verdict. This gathering was not without warning. Thousands of people gathered in Panchkula a week ago on August 18, believing the verdict would be announced on that day. They later dispersed.

After news of the verdict broke at 3 pm on Friday, upset followers waiting outside the court rioted and attacked police, paramilitary officials and the media. Violence has also been reported in Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. A mob burnt two empty rakes in Anand Vihar Terminal in Delhi.

Several members of the Bharatiya Janata Party had sought the support of Singh and through him his sizeable following in the run up to the 2014 Vidhan Sabha elections in Haryana. This was the first time the dera had openly influenced elections in Haryana.

As these reports trickled in, other BJP supporters were at pains to distance the violence from the followers of the dera.

Sakshi Maharaj, MP from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, who stands accused of rape himself, wanted to know why the courts had not listened to the opinions of the “crores” who stood with Singh – and also declared that the courts would be responsible for any escalation of violence.

Rakesh Sinha, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker, declined on television to comment on whether Khattar had failed in his duty as chief minister, saying that it might hurt the sentiments of the state.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani, had a slightly more oblique warning, reminding television news channels that according to broadcast rules, they should not “[cause] panic, distress or undue fear”.

Subramanian Swamy, BJP member and Rajya Sabha MP, called the verdict a conspiracy by politicians and ashram workers to grab the wealth of such organisations.

While others in the party sought to distance the violence from the dera, Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned it, saying that he, the National Security Advisor and the Home Secretary were closely monitoring the situation. He has so far not commented on Khattar’s handling of this.

The Haryana government, which had already suspended mobile networks in that part of the state, declared curfew in Panchkula by evening. The Delhi police also announced the imposition of Section 144 in parts of Delhi, to discourage people from gathering in large groups.