Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a name that heads the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, enjoys an astonishing fan following.
From his headquarters in Haryana’s Sirsa he travelled in a procession of a 100 cars to Panchkula, where a court will deliver verdict in a rape case against him this afternoon.
Tens of thousands of his followers are camped in Panchkula, just 11 km from Chandigarh, triggering concerns of violence ahead of the verdict.
Massive police security has been set up and the Army and paramilitary forces are kept on standby. The union Home Ministry has said it is keeping a watch very closely from Delhi and has promised Haryana Chief Minister of all the assistance that can be offered.
The self-styled Godman Ram Rahim Singh, took to twitter to control his fan frenzy and posted a video message, in which he asked his followers to go home. He would go to the court personally to listen to the verdict and to be respectful towards the law.
Meanwhile here are the 10 latest developments leading upto the final verdict:
- Officials said the army was deployed in Panchkula late on Thursday, where the court’s verdict is expected at 2.30 pm. The army is also on standby in Sirsa, which hosts the main headquarters of Ram Rahim.
- A near curfew situation has unfolded in Panchkula but not before huge amounts of Ram Rahim followers managed to enter the city in a show of solidarity with their chief.
- But police said they will have to leave. Top police official Sandhu said, “The High Court order is that they should be told they will have to go. We are arranging buses and the entire night exercise will be carried out to send them out of Panchkula.”
- The centre has already sent 15,000 paramilitary troops to add to the many layers of police guarding Panchkula. The administration moved in more security forces into Panchkula after midnight.
- Mobile internet services have been frozen in Haryana, though the police in Gurgaon tweeted that the satellite city, where top international firms have large offices, will not be affected.
- Ram Rahim, the charismatic spiritual head of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, has denied that he sexually exploited two female followers in 2002.
- On Twitter on Thursday Those of you who have gone to Panchkula, please go back to your houses. I will go and listen to the verdict in the court myself. It is our duty to respect the law afternoon, the self-styled “godman” urged his supporters against violence and said he would personally appear in court. He also appealed to them much later at night to disperse from Panchkula. “,” he said in the video message.
- Government offices in Panchkula and Chandigarh will be closed today along with schools and colleges. 27 trains have been cancelled on routes that include Panchkula.
- Roads into Panchkula were blockaded on Wednesday evening and three stadiums in Punjab and Haryana have been set aside as makeshift prisons in case of trouble, officials said.
- But thousands of supporters were already camped out across the city, provoking strong criticism from the Punjab and Haryana court, which said the Haryana government has failed to make adequate arrangements to guard against violence.