Indian spiritual leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was recently convicted of the rape of two women. Ram Rahim’s followers, the Dera Sacha Sauda, responded by setting trains on fire and attacking the media, police, and government buildings in Panchkula, a small town in northern India.
While Ram Rahim, 50, pleaded for members of Dera Sacha Sauda to not resort to violence in a televised appeal, AK Dhir, one of his lawyers, attests to Ram Rahim’s innocence and states that followers have every right to protest.
Dera Sacha Sauda, founded in 1948, has 60 million backers who actively campaign against drug abuse and for vegetarianism. It also helps fund weddings for the poor and provides free health services.
Ram Rahim is largely influential in India; he has stared in five films and several popular music videos.