After 200 hearings spread over 10 years and numerous stay orders of higher courts, a CBI special trial court in Panchkula was to decide on Friday the fate of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, accused of raping his female followers. The hearing was scheduled for 2.45 pm.
Since Wednesday, parts of Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh have been under a security lockdown as 200,000 supporters of Ram Rahim massed in Panchkula ahead of the verdict.
Schools, colleges and government offices remain closed, and train and bus services have been curtailed. The army is on standby, while police and paramilitary forces are patrolling sensitive areas. Mobile internet and data services have been suspended in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh for 72 hours.
Updates on the case
3:08 pm: Army deployed.
3:03 pm: Self-styled godman likely to be taken to Ambala central jail. Followers reportedly begin agitation.
3:00 pm: CBI court holds Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty, say TV reports. Quantum of sentence to be announced on Monday.
2:56 pm: Cable television connections across Panchkula disconnected.
2.50 pm: Judge Jagdeep Singh reading out the verdict
2.44pm: Power supply of nearby areas in Panchkula disconnected
2:38 pm: Dera followers rush towards the court complex, gather at the barricading in huge numbers and start “celebrations” claiming the dera chief has been acquitted!
2:35 pm: Hushed silence in Panchkula as thousands of Dera followers sat quietly in the open as it rained at Hafed Chowk adjoining Sector 4, awaiting verdict in the rape trial against Ram Rahim Singh on Friday afternoon.
2.28pm: Hearing begins in rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh
2.25: Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh takes stock of security situation in Mohali, part of tricity along with Chandigarh and Panchkula
2.24: Ram Rahim enters court complex
2.23pm: Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar says state will get implemented any order in the rape case on Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh; calls for peace among “all Indians, particularly dera premis”.
2:19 pm: After 200 hearings spread over 10 years and numerous stay orders of higher courts in between, the CBI special trial court in Panchkula is set to decide the fate of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
1: 57pm: Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has arrived in Panchkula
1:49 pm: Heavy security deployed outside the Panchkula court, Ram Rahim to arrive shortly.
1:46 pm: On Facebook, Students for Society (SFS) leader writes about how campus of Panjab University is also witnessing some support for Ram Rahim.
1:37 pm: Section 144 imposed in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh and Sri Ganganagar, internet services suspended for 48 hours in Sri Ganganagar.
1:24 pm: Patiala DC imposes curfew within 1 km radius of Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s Patiala residence, New Moti Bagh Palace.
1: 18 pm: Ram Rahim’s foray into the world of cinema as the ‘Messenger of God’ was an attempt to give him a larger-than-life image.
1:01 pm: Since the dera has a huge following, Ram Rahim enjoys tremendous political clout. Politicians of all shades call on the dera head to seek his “blessings” during the elections and the dera obliges them whole-heartedly.
12:50 pm: Security around Panchkula court complex at its maximum now. Heavy deployment at all entry points.
12: 43 pm: Punjab and Haryana high court directs FIR against any politician instigating people as dera chief heads for Panchkula court.
12: 30 pm: Ram Rahim leaves Kurukshetra dera after a brief stopover and without addressing the waiting followers. The dera head, it is learnt, shifted to another vehicle as part of the security drill.
12: 26 pm: Ram Rahim stops at Kurukshetra dera, which is along the route, to meet his followers who had gathered there.
12:23 pm: Punjab and Haryana high court takes stock of the situation, directs the Haryana government to take necessary steps, including use of force if required.
12:20 pm: Security around the court complex in Panchkula further beefed up. BSF personnel on the roads.
12:14 pm: Haryana IG KK Rao says no unauthorised person will be allowed inside court in Panchkula. He further refused to reveal the surveillance plan citing security reasons. On being asked about the number of cars in the cavalcade, he refused to comment.
12:10 pm: Army helicopter conducts security surveillance over Panchkula.
1:59 am: Ram Rahim leaves Kaithal after having breakfast. Likely to stop in Kurukshetra next.
11:50 am: Dera followers form human chain along the highway in Panchkula, RAF companies deployed at the entry point of Panchkula court
11:44 am: Ram Rahim stops at Naam Charcha ghar, situated on the Kaithal-Jind road, has breakfast.
11: 38 am: Dera followers take to the highway in Panchkula, cheering, dancing and waiting for the Dera chief. They believe Ram Rahim will meet them today.
11:30 am: Thousands of dera followers line Kaithal-Kurukshetra highway for a ‘glimpse of Pitaji’. The dera head is expected to cross the highway around 12:30 pm. Police struggling to control crowds, which are otherwise peaceful.
11:26 am: Security around the Panchkula court complex beefed up, security increased manifold.
11: 18 am: Dera followers come out in the streets near Sector 3 and 12 in Panchkula. Situation calm as of now. BSF has stepped in.
11:02 am: “Kafila kam kiya jayega. Vishwas rakhiye (Size of the convoy will be reduced. Have faith),” the Haryana DGP said.
10:56 am: “Flag march in Panchkula soon. Only two cars from Ram Rahim’s convoy will be allowed to enter Panchkula,” the Haryana DGP said.
10: 52 am: Haryana DGP BS Sandhu talks to the media. “Presently, there is peace in Haryana. The dera chief has left Sirsa and is in police protection. He will come straight to court. 38 additional companies of paramilitary forces have been called in since last night. Army is on standby,” he said.
10:48 am: According to ANI, many dera followers fainted as the self-styled godman’s convoy passed them Sirsa. They reportedly cried and tried to block the convoy.
10:44 am: Ram Rahim Singh enjoys Z-plus security cover from the Haryana Police and is travelling with a convoy full of supporters.
10:36 am: The Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula will give its verdict in the rape case at 2.30pm today.
10:24 am: The sect chief has been directed to appear personally in the court in a case pertaining to the alleged rape and sexual exploitation of sadhvis (female disciples).
10:13 am: Even though curfew has not been imposed in Panchkula, streets of the town wear a deserted look.
9:58 am: Security beefed up across Panchkula. Verdict in the Ram Rahim rape case will be pronounced at 2:30 pm.
9:48 am: Haryana Police keeping route to Panchkula under wraps for security reasons. Shops in Panchkula and Sirsa shut, streets deserted as paramilitary forces keep tight vigil.
9:40 am: Stadia in Panchkula and Chandigarh converted into temporary jail complexes if dera followers violate law and order.
9:36 am: Ram Rahim left Sirsa in a 200-car motorcade and will be travelling through curfew-bound villages on the outskirts of Sirsa city in Haryana.
9:30 am: It will take the Dera chief four-five hours to reach Panchkula, where the army is deployed to deal with any situation along with other security forces.
9:15 am: Amid lockdown in Haryana, the self-styled godman leaves Sirsa for Panchkula.
9 am: “Ram Rahim to travel for his appearance at the Panchkula CBI court by road,” Dera spokesperson Aditya Insan has confirmed. He is expected to leave by 10 am and will be travelling through Haryana.
August 25, 8:45 am: Panchkula now a virtual fortress. Roads deserted as people wary of venturing out. An uneasy calm prevails.