Indian police search headquarters of "spiritual leader" jailed for rape

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/9/9 8:30:01

Indian police on Friday searched the headquarters of self-styled Indian godman and spiritual guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh jailed on rape charges in northern state of Haryana amid tight security measures, officials said.

The searches were conducted to sanitize the sprawling Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters spread over 800 acres in Sirsa district.

"Sixty search teams including bomb squad, SWAT commandos, dog squad and jawans of intelligence have entered the headquarters and carried out search operation," an official said. "A drone and a helicopter are put into service to keep eye on every activity inside the headquarters."

According to Satish Mehra, a government official, around 5,000 paramilitary personnel and over a dozen locksmiths were deployed for the job.

The search operation carried out on directions of court has been video-graphed.

Digging machines were taken inside to look for hidden tunnels as suspected by the officials.

Local government fearing violence inside the campus during search had deployed adequate security. Authorities also suspended mobile internet services in Sirsa during sanitisation of headquarters as a precautionary measure.

Reports said a large amount of cash including plastic money, hard discs and computers were seized. The search teams have locked two rooms at the headquarters.

The plastic money according to officials was used inside the campus.

Last month an Indian court sentenced Singh for 20 years in jail after he was found guilty of committing rape. He was convicted in a case dating back to 2002 for raping two women followers inside his headquarters.

His conviction by the court triggered large scale violence in the state. Singh's followers went on rampage and resorted to arson attacks on vehicles, train coaches and petrol stations. At least 38 people were killed and over 250 others injured in the violence.

The 50-year-old Singh claimed to head a religious sect running "social welfare and spiritual organization."

Singh, the flamboyant and controversial chief, claimed to have 50 million followers and was running a spiritual empire. In his movies "MSG: The Messenger of God" and "MSG2," Singh wears dazzling costumes, rides motorcycle, and is seen sending villains flying.

Following Singh's arrest, at least 30 congregation centers of the sect have been sealed across the state.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saddened by the violence in Haryana warned that violence was not acceptable in the nation.

However, his party which governs Haryana has come under heavy fire for failing to prevent deadly violence against court's order.

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