Ahead of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court's verdict in the 15-year-old rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, thousands policemen and paramilitary troops were deployed in Punjab and Haryana with section 144 being in both states. Over one lakh followers are expected to gather within the next two days. Schools and colleges in the area have been shut down.
A special CBI court in Panchkula will deliver its judgement on August 25. The Dera chief has also been asked to appear before the court in person on the same day.
The self-styled godman, also known for his "MSG (Messenger of God)" film franchise, has millions of followers in Haryana, Punjab and various other places.
Over 50,000 followers Dera followers, who call themselves 'Premis', have reached Panchkula, camping near the courthouse where the judgment will be delivered or on roads pavements in Panchkula. These 'premis' have been requesting Gurmeet Ram Rahim not to appear in the court and have even issued violent threats against.
A verdict against the Dera chief can lead to an immediate outbreak of violence.
"The Haryana police is on alert and fully-prepared to tackle any situation. The Centre has also provided 35 companies of paramilitary forces," Haryana DGP B S Sandhu told PTI earlier. He said that their focus is on Sirsa, Fatehabad and Panchkula districts where heavy deployment of paramilitary forces has been especially done.
To keep an eye on the followers, the police are planning to use drones. They have also stocked pellet guns, should they be needed to disperse mobs. The cricket stadium in Sector 16, Chandigarh, has been designated as a temporary jail to detain DSS devotees in case of a riot like situation.
A two-day ban, on 24 and 25 August, has been imposed on vehicular movement on roads near Haryana's Panchkula district court complex in view of a verdict in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
"The police and the administration of Panchkula have imposed a complete ban on 24 and 25 August on the movement of vehicles on five roads adjoining the court complex," Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of Panchkula Ashok Kumar said in Chandigarh.
In 2002, a case was registered by CBI against the self-styled godman after allegations of sexual exploitation of two Sadhvis (women followers) surfaced through anonymous letters. The case hearing has been going on since 2007. He also faces trial in a case involving the murder of a journalist, Ram Chander Chhatrapati.