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Tens of Thousands Camp Out for Indian Guru's Rape Trial

  • VOA News

Supporters of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect charge their mobile phones as they squat in a public park near an Indian court in Panchkula, India, Aug. 24, 2017.

Thousands of police officers sealed off multiple northern Indian cities Thursday while a controversial guru stood trial for rape.

Tens of thousands of supporters of the guru, , camped along the roads near the barricaded courthouse in Panchkula Thursday.

The guru took to Twitter ahead of the trial to say that he would appear in court despite suffering some back pain, because he has "always respected the law."

Indian investigators allege that Singh, dubbed the "guru in bling," molested two of his female worshipers — a charge that he and his supporters deny.

Six thousand police officers were deployed in the city of Panchkula alone as authorities fear a guilty verdict may result in violence.

Many popular ascetics claiming to have mystical powers in India, including Singh, have been linked with scandals and controversy.

In 2015, Singh, leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, was accused of encouraging 400 followers to undergo castration at his ashram so they could get closer to God.

Singh also stood trial for conspiracy to murder a journalist in 2002.

But his supporters have stood firm, referring to him as "the ultimate humanitarian" on the group's website.

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