BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj at it again, defends rape convict Ram Rahim

Followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim gather at a park in Panchkula on Wednesday ahead of the court judgement in a sexual exploitation case against him
Indian cities locked down before decision on rape trial of spiritual guru

26 August, 2017

Supporters started gathering in the streets outside the court in Panchkula town on Thursday.

Till the filing of this report, at least 17 people were killed in Panchkula while over 200 were injured.

People complained that the authorities posted Army units and para-military forces only to secure some locations, including residential areas of government officers and ministers, while the rest of the town was left at the mercy of the violent Dera followers.

After the verdict, he was taken into custody by the Haryana Police.

Multiple OB vans were overturned and burnt and journalists were attacked.

Also known as "premis", these followers have been camping in Panchkula near Chandigarh and have made open threats that they will "wipe out India" if their "Pitaji" is convicted.

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The victims also alleged that several other women were also raped by him inside the Dera campus in Sirsa, Haryana.

Sriganganagar Collector Gyana Ram declared holiday in all schools in the district on Saturday in view of the tension prevailing after the Dera chief's conviction. "We all should respect law and maintain peace", Gurmeet Ram Rahim said in the video message. However, one of them went on to justify the rape saying it would "purify" her. Violence erupted in parts of Haryana and Punjab soon after the verdict was announced during the day, with supporters burning vehicles and attacking the police. Although forces are deployed outside the court who are trying to control the situation.

According to an Indian Express report, during a resumed hearing in the Ram Chander Chhatrapati murder case in 2011, the CBI had dropped a follower of Dera as a witness.

Despite having enough intelligence about Dera chief's followers congregating in Panchkula, the state government seemed totally unprepared to handle the situation.

Besides the rape charges, Singh was also under investigation over allegations that he convinced 400 of his male followers to undergo castration on the promises of becoming closer to God. The letter, reportedly written by a woman follower of Baba Ram Rahim, narrated how the Dera chief sexually exploited his women followers at the ashram.

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