Hundreds of troops are patrolling a Northern Indian city hit by deadly clashes that killed at least 30 people after thousands protested a court’s decision to convict a controversial spiritual leader of rape.
The Army was deployed in Haryana State’s Panchkula city after tens of thousands of followers of guru Ram Rahim Singh went on an angry rampage, attacking television vans and setting fire to dozens of private vehicles.
Security forces were put on high alert to ensure there was no repeat of the violence that erupted Friday afternoon, minutes after a special court pronounced the self-styled guru guilty of raping two of his followers.
Mobile phone services were disrupted in some parts of Haryana and neighboring Punjab State, where authorities had earlier imposed a curfew following the clashes.
Although the curfew was lifted today, restrictions on Public Assembly remained in place.
According to AFP citing official sources that at least 32 people died, with most of the fatalities caused by gun shots. Fifty personnel of police and security forces are among the 200 people injured.
The 50-year-old Singh is known as the “Guru in Bling” for his penchant for bejeweled costumes and claims to have 60 million loyal followers worldwide.
The rape case was brought against him after an anonymous letter was sent to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 accusing him of repeatedly raping the sender and several other women in the sect.
Some 200,000 members of Singh’s sect had gathered in Panchkula in a show of support for the guru a day ahead of the verdict.
The conviction enraged his followers, with many saying they were in a state of shock over the verdict.
Singh’s sentencing will be announced on Monday.