Haryana Inspector General of Police KK Rao on Thursday said security officials had thwarted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s escape plans to use a red bag as a signal to his supporters to create a frenzy. The officer told the media that the self-styled godman’s demand for a red bag, soon after the court declared him guilty of raping two of his followers, led them to suspect foul play.

Director General of Police BS Sandhu said five officers of the Haryana Police, who were part of Ram Rahim’s security when he arrived at the court, had been dismissed and charged with sedition, PTI reported. They are believed to have tried to free Ram Rahim from outside the Panchkula court after his conviction.

Rao said the self-styled godman’s adopted daughter had also been lingering around him to delay his movement. “They were trying to gain time before sitting in the vehicle so that their men could spread the message that he was moving from the court,” the inspector general said. “They were told that you cannot stand here. The mob was about 2-3 km away and could have moved closer.”

Rao said the police changed plans, and decided take Singh in a different car along a new route. “Our priority was to first take Ram Rahim to the chopper site. We did not want to use the same route as the 70 vehicles carrying his supporters. People in those vehicles might have been carrying weapons,” he said.

The police were criticised for inefficiency after 36 people died and over 250 were injured in the violence that erupted after he was pronounced guilty in two rape cases.

On Monday, a Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula had sentenced Ram Rahim to 20 years in prison for raping two of his followers in 2002. These are consecutive sentences, which means he has to serve a 10-year term in jail for each case one after the other.