Security has been increased in Haryana and parts of Punjab ahead of the verdict in a murder case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by a special court in Panchkula on Friday, PTI reported. Singh is accused of ordering his followers to kill Sirsa-based journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati.

Chhatrapati was shot dead in October 2002 after his newspaper Poora Sach published an anonymous letter narrating how Singh sexually harassed women at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa. A case was registered in 2003 and it was handed over the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2006.

Singh is currently serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail for raping two of his followers in 2002. He is also accused in the murder of former Dera manager Ranjit Singh.

Several companies of state police, anti-riot police and commando force have been deployed in Panchkula, Sirsa – where the Dera Sacha Sauda has its headquarters – and Rohtak districts. “Security has been enhanced in Haryana,” said Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order, Haryana) Muhammad Akil.

An unidentified police official said directions have been issued to police in all the districts to not allow unnecessary gatherings and to set up police check posts.

Security has also been increased in Punjab’s Bathinda and Ferozepur cities where there are many followers of the religious group. Police are monitoring sensitive areas like Faridkot, Moga, Baghapurana, Jaitu, and Kotkapura too.

Inspector General MF Farooqui said around 2,000 security personnel have been deployed in the Bathinda range. “Ten companies of police have been deployed in Ferozepur range,” said Inspector General MS Chhina.

On Tuesday, the special Central Bureau of Investigation court had accepted the state’s plea and allowed Singh to appear before the court via video conferencing for Friday’s verdict.