Hysterical Dera followers hold up Gurmeet’s cavalcade

Sirsa/Chandigarh: It was a day of hysteria, tears and frenzied concern today with followers of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh stopping his convoy at several places as it made its way from Sirsa to Panchkula for a verdict on a rape case against him.

As Gurmeet left the Dera headquarters in Sirsa in the morning in a large cavalcade, some supporters broke into tears asking him not to go to Panchkula, where a CBI court would deliver its verdict on the 2002 case.

Similar scenes were witnessed at Kaithal and near Ambala as the convoy, including scores of vehicles, headed towards Panchkula, about 260 km away.

The 50-year-old Dera head, who enjoys ‘Z’ category security left Sirsa at about 9 am, Sirsa Deputy Commissioner Prabhjot Singh said. He reached in the afternoon, to be present in court for the judgement.

At one point, followers, mostly young men, squatted on the road in front of the cavalcade. However, the police immediately evicted them.

A young follower, apparently disconsolate with grief, could be seen being pacified by others later on.

Supporters could also be seen lining the road at some points along the route, attempting to stop the convoy. They were taken aside to clear the way for Gurmeet to reach the court in Panchkula on time.

As tension spiralled, the Dera head appealed to his followers to maintain calm and peace.

Thousands of ‘premis’, as Dera followers are known, have camped in Panchkula, which has virtually turned into a fortress.

Many are also camping in Sirsa, where a curfew was imposed last night.

The case against the Dera chief was registered in 2002 by the CBI on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. This followed anonymous letters being circulated about the alleged sexual exploitation of two ‘sadhvis’ (female followers) by Ram Rahim Singh.

The Dera chief, however, has denied these charges

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