Fri, 25 August 2017
Act against those indulging in violence, Kerala CM tells Modi

Timeline  Refresh

23:53   I&B minister condemns attacks on media, tells it not to spread panic
Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani tonight condemned the attacks on media during violence in Panchkula but at the same time advised news channels to refrain from "causing panic, distress and undue fear".

"Attack on media, damage to property condemnable. Appeal to all to maintain peace," she said in a tweet. 

At the same time, she added, "Drawing attention of news channels to clause B of Fundamental Std of NBSA (News Broadcasting Standards Authority) refraining channels from causing panic, distress & undue fear." 

Media-persons and assets were targeted in Panchkula when followers of Ram Rahim went on the rampage after he was convicted in a rape case.
23:50   Act against those indulging in violence, Kerala CM tells Modi
With violence being reported from various north Indian states following conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a rape case, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate action to ensure safety of the life and property of all citizens. 

In a letter to Modi, Vijayan said he had been personally receiving calls from Malayalis who fear threat for their life and property following the violence.  

"May I request you to take immediate and necessary steps to ensure the life and property of all our citizens and action against those who indulged in violence", Vijayan said in the letter, a copy of which was released to the media in Thiruvananthapuram. 

He also wanted the Centre to take strict action against those behind the unprecedented acts of violence. 

"It is worrying that the widespread instances of violence, rioting and arson are being reported from several parts of north Indian states following the conviction of Gurumeet Ram Rahim by the CBI court", he said.
23:18   US imposes financial sanctions on Venezuela
The US today slapped "strong" financial sanctions on the dictatorship in Venezuela, barring banks from any new deals with the government.

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order imposing "strong, new financial sanctions" on Venezuela.

"We will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles. The president's new action prohibits dealings in new debt and equity issued by the government of Venezuela and its state oil company. It also prohibits dealings in certain existing bonds owned by the Venezuelan public sector, as well as dividend
payments to the government of Venezuela," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement after Trump signed the executive order.

Sanders said these measures are carefully calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule, protect the United States financial system from complicity in Venezuelas corruption and in the impoverishment of the Venezuelan people, and allow for humanitarian assistance.
22:32   US braces for worst hurricane in years
Texas is bracing itself for Hurricane Harvey, which may be the worst storm to hit the US mainland in 12 years.

Harvey, currently a category two storm in the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to make landfall on Texas' central coast late on Friday or early Saturday.

The National Hurricane Center said storm surges may bring life-threatening floods in and around Houston.

The storm may bring 97 cm of rain, 210km/h winds and 3.5 metre storm surges, say forecasters.
22:05   Bihar floods cost 39 more lives
Bihar's flood woes continued with 39 more deaths reported today even
as authorities in deluge-ravaged Uttar Pradesh grappled to bring the situation under control.

However, the condition in Assam and West Bengal improved,wit h water receding from most of the affected areas.

The devastating floods that have swept across large swathes of human habitation have claimed 90 lives in West Bengal, 156 in Assam and 72 in Uttar Pradesh so far.

The toll mounted to 418 Bihar. A staggering 1.67 crore people in 19 districts in the state are bearing the brunt of the flooding.

However, the flood waters have receded at some places, prompting people to return home. The number of relief camps dropped to 368 from 624.

The situation in Uttar Pradesh remained grim. More than 24 lakhs people in over 3,000 villages are affected in 25 districts. More than 57,000 have taken shelter in relief camps.
21:50   Media associations condemn attacks on journalists
The Broadcast Editors' Association and the National Union of Journalists today condemned the attack on media persons allegedly by the followers of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and asked the governments of Haryana and Punjab to ensure safety and freedom of the journalists.

The BEA demands immediate steps for safety and security of media persons as democracy cannot afford to allow anybody to hold the  rule of law to ransom, said a statement issued by the association.

"Any such attack is an attempt to prevent media from discharging its legitimate duty of dissemination of information, a duty that is vital to the healthy functioning of a democracy," it added.
The BEA said the governments of Haryana and Punjab should ensure the safety and freedom of media persons to report the incident.
21:38   6 'commandos' of Ram Rahim held with arms, petrol cans: Police
Six "commandos" of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief were arrested and arms and ammunition were seized from them while they were entering Chandigarh from Panchkula, the police said.

They said a pistol, 25 live cartridges and two petrol cans were recovered from their possession and two vehicles impounded.

"We suspect that they were coming to Chandigarh after indulging in violence and rioting in Panchkula," a UT of Chandigarh Police official said.

During the preliminary interrogation, they have claimed to be the "commandos" of Dera Sacha Sauda sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, he said.

They have been booked under relevant sections of Arms Act and for rioting, police said.
21:22   Ram Rahim row: Home ministry calls high level meeting tomorrow
A high level meeting has been called at Home Minister Rajnath Singh's residence on Saturday, in the wake of the verdict against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in an alleged rape charge

Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and other senior officials will also be present there.

Meanwhile, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday has condemned the violence and damage to public property after the court verdict against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on an alleged rape charge, appealing to all citizens to maintain peace.

President Kovind took to Twitter and wrote, "Violence and damage to public property after court verdict is highly condemnable; appeal to all citizens to maintain peace."

Congress President Sonia also has expressed grave concern and shock at the unabated violence in Panchkula and other parts of Haryana. She has appealed to everyone to maintain peace and harmony.
21:02   PM Modi condemns violence in Punjab, Haryana
PM Narendra Modi condemns violence following conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief, terms it as deeply distressing. 

He tweeted, "Instances of violence today are deeply distressing. Strongly condemn violence and urge everyone to maintain peace. 

"The law & order situation is being closely monitored. I reviewed the situation with NSA & Home Secretary," he added, "Urged officials to work round the clock to restore normalcy and provide all possible assistance that is required."

At least 28 people have died in the violence that broke out following the conviction of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief in the rape case. 
20:33   'Ram Rahim a simple man:' BJP's Sakshi Maharaj supports Dera chief
BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj on Friday came out in support of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, and said there was only one person against him while crores support him.

"Crores of people are supporting Ram Rahim, and only one person is complaining against him. Is one person right or are crores of people right?" the BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district said.

"There is so much of ruckus over it, law and order has been disturbed, people are dying... Shouldn't this be a consideration," he added.

"Can the Supreme Court or high court call the Shahi Imam (head) of Jama Masjid in this manner? He is also wanted in many cases... Is he their relative? Ram Rahim is a simple man so he is being harassed," Maharaj said.
20:12   Prez condemns violence in Haryana, asks people to maintain peace
President Ram Nath Kovind today condemned violence and damage to public property by followers of the Dera Sacha Sauda and asked all people to maintain peace.

Widespread violence broke out in several parts of Haryana, Punjab as well as the national capital after a special CBI court convicted Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim of rape.

"Violence and damage to public property after court verdict is highly condemnable; appeal to all citizens to maintain peace," the president said in a tweet.
20:01   Dera chief: Hearing on quantum of sentence through video- conferencing
The hearing for deciding the quantum of punishment to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, convicted in a rape case by a CBI court in Panchkula today, will take place through video-conferencing on August 28.

The judgment, holding Singh guilty of raping two female followers, mentions that the hearing will be held through video-conferencing, Central Bureau of Investigation sources said.

The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on August 28, CBI counsel HPS Verma told reporters outside the court in Haryana.

The punishment can be a jail term not less than seven years but may even extend to life imprisonment.

At least 28 people were killed and more than 250 injured in the violence that left a trail of destruction and vandalism.
CBI judge Jagdeep Singh held the 50-year-old Dera Sacha
Sauda chief guilty of rape in the case that was registered on
the basis of an anonymous written complaint in 2002 that he
had sexually exploited two female followers. 

19:27   Sidharth slammed for promoting movie amid unrest in Haryana
Sidharth Malhotra was today slammed on social media for promoting his latest release "A Gentleman" in Haryana ahead of the verdict against Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Post the verdict violence broke out in the state. The violence left a
trail of destruction and vandalism, a Haryana government official said.

"To all the people of Haryana, please stay safe. Hope you can see our film soon #Agentleman #PeaceAndLove," Sidharth had tweeted earlier in the day.

Post the judgment many people blasted him for the tweet.

"After this shameless tweet people should bycott his film," one of the Twitter users wrote.

"This was a shameful way of promoting your film. For god sake can you get considerate," another tweet read.

The actor later clarified, saying his thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by the violence. "It's really sad to see the situation worsen since morning and see people in Punjab and Haryana. Love and prayers.

"To people who are commenting on my morning tweets, they were made before the verdict! Thoughts and prayers," he wrote.

CBI judge Jagdeep Singh held the 50-year-old Dera Sacha Sauda chief, guilty of rape in a case that was registered on the basis of an anonymous written complaint in 2002 that he had sexually exploited two female followers.

19:05   HC pulls up Dera for violence, orders it to pay for losses after violence
The losses caused to property due to violence and arson by the followers of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh will be recovered from Dera
Sacha Sauda, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled today, according to a senior government lawyer.

The full bench of the high court also directed the Haryana government to use weapon or force, if required, to tackle the situation arising out of the CBI court verdict in the rape case against the dera head.

The bench asked the Dera Sacha Sauda lawyer S K Garg Narwana to convey to the sect followers not to indulge in any violence or breach of peace.

18:56   Dera to challenge verdict against Ram Rahim in higher court
The Dera Sacha Sauda today described as "unjust" a special CBI court's verdict against its guru, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, convicted in a 2002 rape case, and said it would appeal against it.

In a statement in Hindi, signed by spokesperson Dilawar Insaan, the Dera also appealed for peace amid widespread violence that has already claimed 17 lives after the verdict was pronounced earlier today.

"This is unjust. We will appeal against the judgment," the statement said.

"What has happened with us is something that has happened to gurus through history. Dera Sacha Sauda is dedicated to the betterment of humanity. We request all to maintain peace," the statement further read.
18:25   Rajnath appeals for peace in wake of Dera chief's conviction
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today appealed to people, particularly supporters of Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, to maintain peace in the wake of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief's conviction in a rape case.

"I appeal to everyone, particularly his supporters, to maintain peace. Any harm to life and property due to this unrest cannot be compensated by any amount of money," he told reporters.

Singh said he took stock of the situation in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh in the wake of violence following conviction of the Dera chief.

"I have also spoken to chief ministers of Haryana and Punjab (Manohar Lal Khattar and Amarinder Singh respectively), and they briefed me about the current situation and the steps taken to restore normalcy," he said.

He also spoke to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Rajasthan counterpart Vasundhara Raje.

The home minister said both Haryana and Punjab chief ministers were confident of the bringing law and order situation under control soon.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal urges people to maintain peace after violence in Haryana and Punjab following conviction of Gurmeet Ram Rahim.
17:35   Finally, Haryana CM speaks up, assures of 'tough action'
After five people were reportedly killed in the violence that broke out post the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, Haryana Chief Minister finally broke his silence, saying tough action would be taken against the assailants. 

"Briefed @rajnathsingh ji. Situation is being monitoring extensively, strict action will be taken against those who try to disrupt peace."

However, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has questioned the response of the security forces in combating spiraling violence in parts of Haryana following the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by a special CBI court in a rape case on Friday.
17:22   Delhi put on high alert after Dera chief convicted
The National Capital has been put on high alert after Ram Rahim Singh supporters resort to violence. Alert sounded in Bhatinda in Punjab too.

According to reports, Malout railway station and petrol pump have been set on fire allegedly by Ram Rahim supporters after the verdict.

ANI has reported that 10 people have already been injured in the violence that broke out after the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was found guilty of raping a female follower. 

Image: A camera person injured during violent protests in Sirsa, Haryana. Photograph: ANI/Twitter
16:22   Delhi put on high alert after Dera chief convicted
The National Capital has been put on high alert after Ram Rahim Singh supporters resort to violence. Alert sounded in Bhatinda in Punjab too.

According to reports, Malout railway station and petrol pump have been set on fire allegedly by Ram Rahim supporters after the verdict.

ANI has reported that 10 people have already been injured in the violence that broke out after the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was found guilty of raping a female follower. 

Image: A camera person injured during violent protests in Sirsa, Haryana. Photograph: ANI/Twitter
16:01   Punjab CM appeals for peace as violence breaks out
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has issued an appeal for peace on Twitter. In a video posted on the social media network, CM Amarinder said, "I appeal to all Punjabis to maintain peace and harmony in the state. We won't allow anyone to disturb the peace & tranquility of our state."

The appeal for peace came out after violence broke out as the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was found guilty by a special CBI court in Panchkula. 
15:42   Ram Rahim case: Supporters attack media, tear gas used to control crowd
Shortly after the Special CBI court found Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim guilty of rape, violence has broken outside the court premises. Reports state that supporters have attacked media and the law enforcement agencies are firing tear gas shells to control the situation. 

Paramilitary forces have moved in and are lathi charging the supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda chief. 

NDTV's OB van has been severely damaged in the violence that has broken out owing to the verdict against the Dera chief. 
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to be taken into preventive custody by the army. He will be kept in judicial custody till August 28 where the CBI court will declare the quantum of sentence in the rape case. 

Power has been disconnected in the state while internet services have also been disrupted. 
15:27   Dera Sacha Sauda head chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim held guilty in rape case
After 200 hearings spread over 10 years and numerous stay orders of higher courts, a CBI special trial court in Panchkula has held the Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim guilty of raping his female followers. 

The quantum of sentence will be announced on Monday.

Cable television connections across Panchkula have been disconnected.
15:16   Dera case: Khattar asks people to maintain peace
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar today asked people to maintain
peace and said arrangements have been made to deal with all possible situations.

"I appeal to people of Haryana, especially Dera 'premis' (followers) to maintain peace and brotherhood," Khattar said.

Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim had last night released a video and asked his followers to abide by the law.
"I had earlier appealed to maintain peace and calm and asked (followers) not to go to Panchkula. All those (followers) who are in Panchkula should return to their home," the Dera head had said.
14:45   Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has dengue, in hospital: Doctor
Congress president Sonia Gandhi's daughter, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, has been admitted to the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital for treatment of dengue, a
senior doctor said today.

Dr D S Rana, Chairman (Board of Management), SRGH, said, "She has been diagnosed with dengue fever and is recovering."

Hospital authorities said she had come down with a fever and was admitted to the hospital on August 23 under the care of Dr Arup Basu, senior consultant, department of chest medicines.

Later dengue was confirmed, they said. 
14:30   Dera head arrives at CBI court ahead of verdict
Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has arrived in Panchkula to present himself before a special CBI court which is set to pronounce verdict in the 15-year old sexual exploitation case against him today.

Gurmeet, who left the sect headquarters in Sirsa by road this morning, reached Panchkula in the afternoon, officials said.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made around the district court in Panchkula ahead of the court verdict.
Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in great numbers, they said.
14:24   CBI court may keep ruling 'secret' for an hour in Ram Rahim case
As the Dera Sacha Sauda chief  Ram Rahim Singh has arrived in court, reports are coming in that if the verdict goes against the controversial godman, then the court may keep the ruling a 'secret' for an hour or so to counter any violent reaction and make sure that the sect chief can get safe passage out of Panchkula.

Meanwhile, one of the victim's lawyers was quoted as saying, "We will move Supreme Court to shift trial to another state in case of acquittal (of Ram Rahim."
JUST IN: Ahead of verdict in rape case against him Dera Chief Ram Rahim Singh arrives in Panchkula
13:48   SC to hear pleas against Article 35 A after Diwali
The Supreme Court today agreed to hear after Diwali pleas challenging Article 35 A, relating to special rights and privileges of permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

A bench headed by Justice J S Khehar accepted the plea of the Jammu and Kashmir state government that the pleas challenging Article 35 A be heard after Diwali.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi and Advocate Shoeb Alam mentioned the matter before a bench also comprising Justices Dipak Misra and D Y Chandrachud that even the Centre has no objection if the pleas are taken up after Diwali.

"All the pleas will be taken up for hearing after Diwali," the bench said.
12:52   5 injured as train derails near Mahim on Mumbai's Harbour Line
Four coaches of a suburban train derailed near Mahim station on the Harbour Line this morning, injuring five passengers, Western Railway said.

The derailment affected train movement on the Wadala-Andheri section, a railway official said.

The local train, which started from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, was on its way to Andheri station when a problem was detected in the overhead equipment (that supplies power for train movement) near Mahim

The train was to be shifted to another track because of the problem. Four front coaches derailed as it was reversing from the platform around 9.55 am, Western Railway's Chief Public Relations Officer Ravinder Bhatkar said.

Efforts were on to rerail the coaches as soon as possible, he said.
Train movement on the Wadala-Andheri section was affected due to the derailment. However, all western main lines in the Churchgate-Virar section were unaffected, Bhatkar said.

An inquiry would be instituted to ascertain the cause of the incident, he said. 
12:49   Right to Privacy will have 'some bearing' in beef-related cases: SC
The Supreme Court on Friday said that the Right to Privacy judgment will have "some bearing" in matters related to possession of beef in Maharashtra. 

It is unclear what the impact will be of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling, but it's being considered as a positive sign by many. 

With the ruling, the ban imposed on the consumption of beef in Maharashtra could come up for review.

In fact, in his personal conclusion Justice Chelameswar said on Thursday, "I do not think that anybody would like to be told by the State as to what they should eat or how they should dress or whom they should be associated with either in their personal, social or political life."

In upholding privacy as a fundamental right, the top court overruled earlier judgments in 1954 and 1962 that said the right to privacy was not part of the Constitution. 
12:22   Use your work as opportunity to transform governance: PM to IAS officers
Don't restrict yourself to files but go to the field to understand the true impact of decision making.

This was Prime Minister Narendra Modi's advice to a group of senior IAS officers who met him yesterday. 

Modi interacted with over 80 additional secretaries and joint secretaries serving in the government of India. This was the second of five such interactions.

The prime minister said officers should not look on their work as just a duty, but an opportunity to make a positive transformation for governance in the country.

Modi urged them to use technology interventions to simplify governance processes.

He asked the officers to focus their attention on  100 most backward districts of India, so that they can be brought up to the national average level on various development parameters.
12:02   Gurmeet Ram Rahim case: Dera chief puts up show of strength
Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has left for a CBI court in Panchkula in a massive 200-car convoy. The court will pronounce its verdict in a rape case filed against the controversial godman-turned-actor at 2pm. 

According to reports, the 'Love Charger's convoy' includes an ambulance. The Dera chief, who enjoys 'Z' category security, was
travelling in a convoy that included several SUVs, to reach

As the Dera head left the sect headquarters at Sirsa, some of the followers standing on the roadside turned hysterical and held up the cavalcade for a few minutes.

Asked about reports that there were around 200 vehicles in the Dera chief's cavalcade, the DGP said the cavalcade's size will be cut along the way. However, he did not specify the number of vehicles in the cavalcade.
11:19   German magazine cover depicts Donald Trump doing Nazi salute
A German magazine has portrayed US President Donald Trump giving a Nazi salute on its latest front page.

Stern magazine mocked up the image of Trump performing the gesture while draped in the American flag for the cover of its August 24 issue.

With the main headline of Sein Kampf (which translates roughly to His Struggle), it clearly alluded to dictator Adolf Hitlers 1925 autobiographical book Mein Kampf.

It also referenced neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and racism in its subheading.

The magazines cover is the latest in a line of provocative anti-Trump front pages to appear since the president failed to fully condemn this months violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The New Yorker showed Trump blowing a ships sail that resembles the white hood of a Klansman.
10:51   Dera chief leaves for Panchkula, followers try to block his way
Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's convoy on way to Panchkula from Sirsa to be present in a CBI court during pronouncement of the verdict on a rape case against him.

Dera followers cried and tried to block his convoy in Sirsa.

He was to leave Sirsa earlier on a chopper but later the plan was revised and he is travelling on road, with hundreds of cars in his convoy. -- ANI
08:52   Despite Dera chief's appeal to go home, followers refuse to budge
Despite Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim making an appeal to his followers to leave Panchkula, many of them have refused to relent and kept sitting along side roads and parks there.

Since mobile internet and data services have been suspended in Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh, Dera followers complained of being unable to see the video clip of the sect head making an appeal to return to their homes.

Security forces were faced with a tough situation as many Dera followers remained reluctant to move, saying they had come to the town on their own and would move only after having sect head's 'darshan'.

IMAGE: Followers of Dera chief sitting on a pavement in Panchkula. Photograph: PTI Photo
08:32   Court has no power to add Fundamental Rights in Constitution: Rohatgi
Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said on Thursday that a court has no power to engraft more Fundamental Rights in the Constitution as the right to make a law or amend it belongs to the Parliament.

Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict declaring right to privacy a fundamental right, the senior advocate said 'there is much a do about nothing' as the government had already agreed with the stand taken by the petitioners and the court.

"The Fundamental Rights are engrafted in the Constitution so they have to be physically put in a book called the Constitution.

"The right belongs to the Parliament, to make the law, amend the law, repeal the law. The court has no power to engraft more Fundamental Rights in the Constitution," Rohatgi, who had argued in the matter as the then attorney general, said.

"I still maintain there is much ado about nothing for the simple reason that I do hear that government has stated that they agree that privacy is a Fundamental Right," he said.

Rohatgi, while speaking to a TV channel, also said there are two spheres -- judiciary and Parliament -- and both cannot overlap each other.

"There is no amendment in the Constitution by a court as you have two different spheres. The sphere of the judiciary and the sphere of the Parliament. Both the spheres cannot overlap," he said.  -- PTI
08:19   Dera chief verdict: Army in Sirsa, Panchkula; police warns followers
The Army was called out in Sirsa today, ahead of a court verdict in a rape case against Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, even as security was tightened, with senior police personnel carrying out a flag march outside the the sect headquarters in the district.

The move comes hours before the verdict by a Central Bureau of Investigation court in Panchkula where the sect chief will appear in connection with the case today.

Army columns also arrived in Panchkula past midnight as scores of Dera followers gathered in the town ahead of the verdict.

"Two companies of Army from Hisar district have been called out to maintain law and order in Sirsa," a top police officer said.

"Police carried out flag march outside Dera headquarters, led by top officials. Security has been beefed up to maintain law and order in the district," he added.

A Dera spokesperson had yesterday claimed that around five lakh followers have arrived in the sect headquarters in Sirsa.

Fearing trouble, especially if the verdict goes against the controversial Dera chief, thousands of jawans, including 15,000 paramilitary troops, have been deployed in sensitive areas across Punjab and Haryana.

The Haryana Police assisted by central forces were involved in an operation to flush out scores of Dera followers even as the sect head made a video appeal to his followers to go back home.

The Chandigarh Police, meanwhile, warned Dera Sacha Sauda followers of stern action if they try to enter the Union Territory.

"No Dera follower will be allowed to enter Chandigarh," the police said in a statement.

"If they (Dera followers) try to enter Chandigarh, stern action will be taken as per the law," officials said. -- PTI

Photograph: PTI Photo
00:16   Hostage situation at Charleston; not a terror attack, says mayor
Charleston update:

Mayor John Tecklenburg said an angry employee shot one person and was holding 'a couple' of others hostage at a crowded restaurant during lunchtime in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

Hostage negotiators were trying to talk to the man inside Virginia's, Tecklenburg said.

The restaurant is located on usually crowded King Street, a line of shops and nice dining that caters to both tourists and residents in South Carolina's largest and most historic city.

"This is not an act of terrorism. This is not a hate crime. It is a disgruntled employee," Tecklenburg said.

Police spokesman Charles Francis said that the employee was holding a 'couple' of hostages.

He did not give any details on the condition of the victims. -- Agencies

Image only for representation.