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States in lockdown over ‘godman’ sentencing

Reuters / Khmer Times Share:
Followers of the controversial Indian Guru Ram Rahim Singh are seen outside the 'Dera Sacha Sauda' ashram. AFP

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India was deploying thousands of riot police and shutting down internet services in two states last night as it prepared for the sentencing today of a self-styled ‘godman’ whose followers went on the rampage after he was convicted of rape on Friday. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s cult Dera Sacha Sauda has a vast following in Punjab and Haryana states, where mobs burned down gas stations and train stations and torched vehicles after a local court found him guilty of raping two women. At least 38 people were killed and more than 200 injured in the violence in Haryana, officials said. The judge who convicted Singh will hold a special hearing inside the prison in Rohtak at 2.30pm today to decide punishment. Sirsa town, home to Dera’s headquarters, was locked down, BS Sandhu, Haryana’s police chief, said. Neighbouring Punjab summoned more than 8,000 paramilitary and police, banned large gatherings and switched off mobile internet connections.

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