At least 12 people were killed in firing by security forces as enraged supporters of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh went on a rampage here on Friday after his conviction in a rape case, police and hospital sources said.
The sources said security forces opened fire at several places as Dera supporters went around setting vehicles and buildings on fire in this town adjoining Chandigarh.
Journalists and security personnel came under targeted attack. Some journalists fled for their lives and took shelter in nearby homes.
More than 100 people, including security personnel, were injured in the mayhem. Some bodies, bleeding and with bullet wounds, lay on the roads, witnesses said.
Panchkula town was virtually under siege by the rampaging Dera followers who had a free run as they vastly outnumbered the police and security personnel.
More than 100 vehicles were set on fire by the rampaging mobs. Several government and private buildings were also damaged and some torched.
Residents reported seeing plumes of black smoke rising into the sky at several places.
The Dera followers, in thousands, had gathered in Panchkula from various areas of Punjab and Haryana ahead of Friday’s court verdict, in brazen violation of orders banning the assembly of more than four people.
Once a CBI special court held Ram Rahim Singh guilty of rape and sexual molestation of two female devotees, the violence began in no time.