At least 28 people have been killed in unrest that took place in #India following the conviction of Gurmeet #Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case. Most of the victims are said to be supporters of the Guru.

Singh, who is known as the 'guru of bling' for his love for shiny jewels and extravagant lifestyle, was convicted on Friday in a case dating back to 2002. After the decision by the court, followers of the Guru went on a rampage, turning violent and clashing with the police.

The president of India, Ram Nath Kovind, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have condemned the violence and asked people to maintain peace.

Total chaos

Following the verdict by a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) court in Panchkula (Haryana) on Friday, enraged supporters resorted to violence, assaulting police officers, torching state buildings and attacking vehicles.

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According to local to reports, police used tear gas and water cannons to control the crowds. There also were various reports of live ammunition being used by security forces. Some of the victims were apparently killed by bullets fired by police officers.

In the state of Haryana, where the violence was most intense, two railway stations, a power grid, and petrol stations were set on fire by the rioters. Several attacks on journalists were also reported. Curfews were imposed in many areas of the state, but were later lifted, reports say.

Mobile phone services were disrupted in some areas of the state.

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Bus and train services were suspended in light of the violence.

Violence also broke out in the states of Punjab and Delhi.

Who is Ram Rahim Singh?

Singh, 50, is the leader of the spiritual group Dera Sacha Sauda (DSS). The website of the organization describes it as an organization that works for humanity and preaches selfless services to others. The organization claims to have more than 60 million followers worldwide and devotees from various religions.

Singh, who is also an actor, became the leader of DSS in 1990 when he was just 23-years-old. Sigh has been the subject of various controversies over the years.

In 2007, he was accused of hurting religious sentiments of Sikh community after appearing in an advertisement wearing an attire resembling the tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh. A criminal case was filed against him but was dropped in 2009.

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Singh has also been accused of castrating nearly 400 of his followers to “meet God.” The case is still being investigated by the authorities. Singh has denied the charges.

What next?

On Monday (27 August), the sentence will be announced by the CBI court. Singh could face a term of at least seven years, sources say. Some reports also state that he could be imprisoned for life. The hearing will be conducted via video-conferencing, according to local media.