After 200 hearings spread over 10 years and numerous stay orders of higher courts, a CBI special trial court in Panchkula will decide on Friday the fate of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, accused of raping his female followers. The hearing is expected to begin at 2.30pm.
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.
Paramilitary forces and police conducting a flag march as Dera Sacha Sauda followers look on at Hafed Chowk in Sector 4, Panchkula, on Friday morning. (Ravi Kumar/HT)
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.