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29 dead in riots after guru’s rape conviction

 

 

Twenty-nine people have died in riots by followers of an Indian guru after he was found guilty of raping two women.

Rampaging supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh set fire to government buildings, vehicles and railway stations.

They also attacked garages, TV trucks, police and journalists in towns across India’s northern states of Punjab and Haryana.

More than 100 people were injured in the mob violence, with reports of more than half being in a critical condition in hospital.

Around 1,000 of Singh’s followers have been detained while almost 250 trains passing through the area have been cancelled

The quasi-religious sect, of which Singh is the leader, is described as a social welfare and spiritual organisation.

Tens of thousands of Singh’s supporters had gathered outside the courthouse in the town of Panchkula, Haryana, since Thursday ahead of the verdict.

More than 15,000 police and paramilitary troops were deployed in the town, with the army on standby, while water cannon was used in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

Mobile internet services were suspended and curfews imposed in some parts of Punjab and Haryana, which are strongholds of DSS, with supporters told to go home.

He faces at least seven years in jail when he is sentenced on Monday.

Singh had denied the rape charge and called on his supporters to remain peaceful via a video message.

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