Despite deploying hundreds of additional paramilitary forces, having Army personnel on standby and conducting flag marches to warn against violence, security forces were unable to control the chaos that ensued after a self-styled godman was found guilty of rape charges on Friday.
A special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Haryana’s Panchkula convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a 15-year-old rape case on Friday. The verdict triggered protests and riots by lakhs of his supporters across the state, as well as in Punjab and New Delhi, leaving at least 30 dead and more than 250 injured.
Take a look at how the violence unfolded in photographs:
The violence spread from Haryana to Punjab and New Delhi, where buses and trains were burned, and vehicles were set ablaze. Dera followers resorted to stone pelting and also charged at security forces trying to control the chaos.
Appeals for peace by several leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, fell on deaf ears.
The case dates back to 2002, when two anonymous letters that claimed Ram Rahim had sexually exploited two female followers began to be circulated. Although he had denied the allegations, the CBI filed a chargesheet against the Dera chief in 2007.
The quantum of sentence will be decided on Monday, August 28. Under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, Ram Rahim faces seven years in jail to life imprisonment for the crime.