SIRSA/CHANDIGARH: Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh today set off for Panchkula by road in a massive convoy to appear before a special CBI court in the sexual exploitation case against him.
Amid heavy security, the 50-year-old Dera head left the sect-headquarters at Sirsa, about 260 km from Chandigarh, at about 9:am.
The Dera chief, who enjoys 'Z' category security, was travelling in a convoy that included several SUVs, to reach Panchkula, where the court is set to pronounce verdict in the case at around 2:30 p.m.
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.
The followers, mostly young men, squatted on the road just in front of the cavalcade. However, the police immediately evicted them following which the Dera chief continued his onward journey to Panchkula.
"He has left Sirsa by road," Sirsa Deputy Commissioner, Prabhjot Singh told PTI over phone earlier. The Dera chief is accompanied by a number of his own security guards in the cavalcade.
It will take him around four hours to reach the court, a police official said.
In Panchkula, Haryana DGP, B S Sandhu said the Dera chief was on his way to the town under police protection.
"He will be brought to Panchkula directly," the DGP said.
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.
"We will bring him (Dera chief) clear and in a smooth manner," the DGP said.
To a question, he said peace prevails in the state and the situation was under control.
The DGP said, 38 additional companies of central forces have arrived in Panchkula while Army columns, which arrived in the town early today, "will conduct flag march in Panchkula along with other security forces".
Army personnel have taken position around the CBI court complex in Panchkula, even as area close to the complex had been sealed.
A special CBI court at Panchkula is set to deliver its verdict today in the 2002 sexual exploitation case against the Dera head. The court is expected to pronounce verdict at around 2:30 pm.
Amid tension ahead of the verdict, the Dera head has appealed to his followers to maintain calm and peace.
Thousands of 'premis', what Dera followers are popularly known, have descended in Panchkula, which has virtually turned into a fortress.
A large number of Dera followers are also camping in Sirsa, headquarters of the sect, where authorities clamped curfew from 10 pm yesterday. Army has been called in in Sirsa as well to deal with any law order issue which may arise after the court verdict today.
The sexual exploitation case was registered against the Dera chief in 2002 by the CBI on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court after anonymous letters were circulated about the alleged sexual exploitation of two 'sadhvis' (female followers) by Ram Rahim Singh.
The Dera chief, however, has denied these charges.
Security agencies in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have been on their toes in the wake of court order, officials said.
Prohibitory orders have already been clamped in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.