World

Stand-off between soldiers and Indian guru's supporters ends

SIRSA, INDIA Thousands of supporters of a controversial guru ended a stand-off with soldiers yesterday, avoiding renewed violence after their leader's rape conviction sparked riots in which at least 36 people died.

Followers of Ram Rahim Singh, who went on a rampage after he was found guilty on Friday, began trickling out under army guard from the compound of their spiritual headquarters in Sirsa, a town in the northern state of Haryana.

Hundreds of soldiers and riot police had blocked approaches to the 405ha premises and were urging those holed up inside to surrender peacefully.

Police said at least 36 people were killed as tens of thousands of followers went on the rampage, attacking television vans and setting fire to dozens of vehicles.

Singh will be sentenced today at the prison where he is being held in Rohtak in Haryana state, which the authorities have transformed into a fortress to avoid any repeat of the violence. - AFP

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