Riots and arson attacks have broke in several parts of northern India following a verdict of court convicting a flamboyant spiritual leader, Ram Rahim Singh, of raping tow of his female followers. Until now 25 people have lost their lives and tons of others injured. The toll may rise.
The self-styled “godman” and chief of Dera Sacha Sauda runs the 69-year-old sect from his headquarters on 1,000-acre property in the Indian state of Haryana that includes a cricket stadium, schools, cinema and hotel.
India’s elite Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) accused Ram Rahim, who claims to have 60 million followers worldwide, of sexually assaulting tow of the female members of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect.
The rape allegations were first surfaced in 2002 through an anonymous letter sent to the then prime minister of the country. In the same year a investigating journalist was shot dead while his headquarters was scrutinized.
The United States embassy in Indian capital New Delhi has released a travel advisory for its citizens in India to remain away from affected areas.
Curfew has been imposed in several parts of the affected areas following reports of hundreds of violence incidence, particularly in Panchkula and Sirsa towns where the sect is headquarters, that injured media crew and damaged dozens of vehicles too.
Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi are now on high alert.
Ahead of the verdict elaborate security arrangements was seen near to the court equipped with police and paramilitary forces. Several army trucks had taken charge of securing the court complex.