20,000 head to Panckhula before Ram Rahim Singh rape verdict
Two days before verdict is to be declared in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, about 20,000 followers have gathered in Panchkula, near the Naam Charcha Ghar in Sector 23, and have pitched tents there.
The district court is in Sector 1.
Officials have urged Dera followers to maintain peace. Both Haryana and Punjab are on high alert.
Heavy security to prevent possible violence post the verdict
Restrictions have been imposed on all sensitive areas. Barricades have been put up around Sector 1 and the road between Sector 1 and 2 has been closed.
About 7,000 policemen have been deployed.
Schools and colleges have been declared closed during August 23-25.
The cricket stadium in Sector 16 has been made a "temporary jail" to house lawbreakers.
Section 144 has been imposed in all districts.
The 2002 rape case against Ram Rahim
Guru Ram Rahim Singh is accused of sexually exploiting two female followers nearly 15 years ago in 2002. The alleged crime happened at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa, Haryana, about 250kms from capital Chandigarh. Ram Rahim has denied the allegations.
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5,000 police personnel have been deployed and the army has been contacted. Drones are being used for surveillance.
Several buses and trains have been cancelled.
The administration fears large-scale violence if Singh is implicated. 20,000 Dera followers have already gathered in Panchkula.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh