At least 30 people have died in violence that erupted in Panchkula, Haryana, on Friday after self-styled godman and Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was convicted of rape in a 15-year-old case. More than 250 have been injured.
Ram Rahim’s supporters also attacked the media. The OB vans of news channels and other vehicles were vandalised, reported NDTV. There were reports of clashes and vandalism from Sector 1 and 4 in Panchkula.
Lakhs of Singh’s followers had started to gather in Panchkula from Monday.
Several leaders including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh have asked Singh’s followers to maintain peace, but the riots are continuing. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has said that all of the Dera Sacha Sauda’s properties will be seized to compensate for the damage caused by the mobs.
Here is what unfolded on Friday after the court ruling:
11 pm: Singh is allegedly getting special treatment in jail after being convicted of rape.
10.50 pm: Curfews have been imposed in up to 10 districts in Punjab.
10.38 pm: Prohibitory orders under Section 144 imposed in Nainital, Uttarakhand.
10.20 pm: Delhi Transport Corporation has suspended all buses to the National Capital Region because of arson cases. Five people have been arrested in Delhi in connection with the cases.
10.05 pm: Haryana Director General of Police BS Sandhu claims there is no violence in Panchkula right now, reports ANI.
9.50 pm: The Haryana chief minister says 700 people have been detained and six Army columns have been deployed in the state. Khattar also admitted there have been security lapses after the verdict came out. “Haryana government made arrangements, but there was a huge mob... He has lakhs of followers in the country and in the state. We tried to stop them,” he said. “There has been damage to property and some people have died. We will compensate for the losses. The damage should not have happened. Some miscreants entered the crowd,” he said.
9.40 pm: The toll is now two in Sirsa district, taking the number of victims to 30.
9.30 pm: The Dera Sacha Sauda chief’s quantum of sentencing will be held via video conference on Monday.
9.15 pm: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar claims the government had made full arrangements to control the situation, but the mob was out of control, reports ANI.
9.06 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemns the violence.
9.04 pm: Chandigarh police arrest six private commandos of Ram Rahim with weapons, petrol cans.
9.00 pm: Chandigarh Director General of Police Tejinder Singh Luthra says 81 people have been detained as a preventive measure, ANI reports.
8.45 pm: The Dera Sacha Sauda chief’s Z-class security is going to be withdrawn.
8.30 pm: Section 144 has been imposed in 11 districts of the national Capital, including New Delhi.
8.15 pm: Schools in Ghaziabad will be closed on Saturday.
8.10 pm: BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj asks why Singh’s massive following is not being heard, reports ANI.
8 pm: A curfew has been imposed in Sangrur and Moga districts in Punjab.
7.30 pm: Home Minister Rajnath Singh calls a meeting on Saturday at 11 am, to discuss the security situation, reports India Today.
7.20 pm: Around 250 trains have been cancelled in and around parts of Haryana, including Rohtak, says Northern Railways’ official Neeraj Sharma.
7.12 pm: Twenty-nine people have died in the violence, reports Hindustan Times. This includes 17 people at PGIMER, Chandigarh, 7 in Panchkula general hospital, four at GMSH-16 in Panchkula, and one person in Sirsa.
7.10 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind appeals for peace, condemns the damage inflicted by the mobs.
7 pm: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar leaves for Paunchkula.
6.55 pm: Delhi Police says three people have been arrested for violence in the Capital. They maintain that the situation is under control in the city.
6.47 pm: Punjab government asks Centre for more security forces. Meanwhile, paramilitary forces have reached Rohtak, Haryana, where Ram Rahim Singh is lodged in prison.
6.45 pm: Section 144 has been imposed in Ghaziabad, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Baghpat districts. Internet services have also been suspended in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, for 48 hours.
6.32 pm: Haryana’s ADGP (Law and Order) Muhammad Akil says 1,000 supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda have been detained, ANI reports.
6.18 pm: Toll in the violent protests rises to 17; 200 injured admitted to Panchkula general hospital.
6.13 pm: It also directs that paramilitary security cover be provided to senior government officials in Sirsa, ANI reports.
6.05 pm: The army has been deployed in Sirsa.
5.48 pm: After buses and railway coaches are set on fire in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appeals for calm.
5.45: Punjab and Haryana High Court says all of the Dera Sacha Sauda’s properties will be seized in order to compensate for the damage caused by the mob. It has also asked the Haryana government for a report on the violence.
5.40 pm: CMO civil hospital confirms that 12 people are dead, PTI reports.
5.30 pm: Violence spreads to Delhi. A train has reportedly been set on fire in Anand Vihar while a few buses were torched in Mongolpuri.
5.26 pm: Security has been tightened at railway stations in Delhi, ANI quoted Northern Railway spokesperson Neeraj Sharma as saying.
5.20 pm: Army columns moved in Haryana’s Sirsa.
5.14 pm: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said strict action will be taken against those who try to disrupt peace.
5.12 pm: At least 70 people injured in the violent protests in Panchkula. All have been admitted in Sector 6 General Hospital.
5.03 pm: Six Army columns have been deployed in Panchkula.
5.01 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he has briefed Home Minister Rajnath Singh about the situation. “We are keeping a close watch. We would not allow anyone to disturb peace in Punjab,” said Singh, according to ANI.
4.50 pm: Central Industrial Security Force personnel deployed within 1 km radius of Rohtak’s Sunariya Jail in Haryana.
4.43 pm: Curfew imposed in Punjab’s Muktsar, Bathinda, Mansa, reported ANI.
4: 36pm: Curfew imposed in Patiala and Fazilka districts of Punjab. Two hotels set on fire in Panchkula.
4:34 pm: Sangrur sub-divsional office set on fire.
4:21 pm: Income tax office in Panchkula’s Sector 2, petrol pump in Sector 4 set on fire.
4:14 pm: Power house in Punjab’s Sangrur set on fire.
4:09 pm: Curfew imposed in Panchkula.
4:06 pm: Mob enters Sector 3 residential area in Panchkula.
4pm: Ram Rahim has been moved to jail in a helicopter.
3.45 pm: Railway stations in Punjab’s Malout and Balluana set on fire, confirmed Northern Railways.
3.30 pm: Police are using teargas shells on the mob.
Earlier in the day, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had asked Ram Rahim’s followers to maintain peace. “Once the verdict comes, whatever situation arises, to deal with that, every possible arrangement has been made,” Khattar had said in a video message. “I appeal to people of Haryana, especially Dera premis to maintain peace and brotherhood,” he added.
Security forces in Haryana and Punjab have been bracing to face the backlash of the verdict from Ram Rahim’s supporters. On Thursday, Ram Rahim had urged his supporters to maintain peace. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered the police to register FIRs against politicians who make provocative statements on the case to incite violence.
Prohibitory orders were put in place in Punjab and Haryana since Wednesday after lakhs of Singh’s supporters gathered at Panchkula before the verdict. Schools, colleges and shops are closed in both Chandigarh and Panchkula.