Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was held guilty of rape by a special CBI court on Friday. The quantum of punishment in the 15-year-old rape case is expected on 28 August. The sexual exploitation case was registered against the Dera chief in 2002 by the CBI, on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, after anonymous letters were circulated about the alleged sexual exploitation of two sadhvis or female followers by Ram Rahim Singh.
As soon as news of Singh's conviction became public, mayhem broke out among his supporters, who took to the streets of Panchkula in the hundreds. Clashes broke out between the security forces and the followers, with the former using a range of arsons to bring the situation under control. From water cannon to tear gas to lathi charge to bullets fired in the air, the troops used several ammunitions to deal with the situation.
As of 6 PM, at least 12 people have died in the clashes, according to agencies, and over a hundred were injured. Media personnel were attacked and public property damaged in Haryana, Delhi and Punjab.
Here are the live updates:
6:15 PM: ANI is still reporting incidents of violence in Sirsa, where the Dera Sacha Sauda is based.
6:08 PM: Two buses in Delhi were allegedly set on fire by supporters of Dera Sacha chief.
6:00 PM: ANI says at least 100 injured in the clashes so far.
5:45 PM: Death toll in Panchkula violence rises to 12, says CMO civil hospital: PTI.
5:35 PM: A train in Delhi's Anand Vihar station was set on fire allegedly by Dera supporters, reacting to their chief's conviction in multiple cases of rape.
5:25 PM: A bus was torched in northeast Delhi's Loni Chowk, allegedly by Dera supporters, say police: PTI
5:20 PM: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal urges people to maintain peace after violence in Haryana and Punjab, following the conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh: PTI.
5:15 PM: Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar says he has brief Home Minister Rajnath Singh about the situation in his state, which is being monitored extensively.
5:09 PM: Home Minister Rajnath Singh called on Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to take control of the situation immediately and impose a curfew if required, reports News 18.
5:05 PM: Heavy security arrangements in Panchkula.
4:50 PM: Dera supporters set fire to Malout and Balluanna railway stations in Punjab, says PTI.
4:45 PM: At least 5 people are dead and hundreds injured in the clashes, according to PTI. Hospitals in Panchkula filling up with the wounded.
4:35 PM: Alert sounded in adjoining districts to control spillover of trouble. The administrative machinery has been geared up in western Uttar Pradesh and security beefed up on Delhi border as well: ANI.
4:30 PM: At least 15 incidents of violence broke out in Punjab and Haryana within an hour of the Dera chief's conviction.
4:28 PM: According to a news flash by India Today, three Dera supporters have died in the clashes in Panchkula.
4:25 PM: Crowds keep up their attack on journalists, as captured here by India Today.
4:20 PM: Panchkula turns into a "war zone". TV footage shows all hell breaks loose, as troops try to control the crowds. A curfew has been enforced in Mansa, Panchkula, Bathinda and Ferozepur.
4:15 PM: At least 10 people have been injured in violent protests over the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief and are being treated in a hospital.
4:12 PM: Protestors have allegedly set fire to 3 OB vans, reported ANI.
4:07 PM: Capt Amarinder Singh appeals for calm.
4:04 PM: This is the HuffPost coverage so far:
3.50 PM: Situation in Panchkula is out of control. According to NDTV, the supporters of the Dera chief are not sparing even the journalists at the venue. NDTV's OB vans have been vandalised, an engineer inside the van is also injured.
3:46 PM: ANI reports tear gas and lathicharge in Sector 5 of Panchkula as crowds turn violent. Police fire live bullets in the air to disperse crowds.
3.40 PM: Dera followers threaten dire consequences, including violence, reacting to his rape conviction.