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ICC Note: 

Christians in Haryana and Punjab fear being attacked following the mob violence that erupted last Friday following the rape conviction of Guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Following the conviction, the guru’s followers broke out into mob violence that led to the deaths of at least 32 people. With religious intolerance in India at an all time high, Christians fear this mob violence could easily evolve into an attack on local Christians. 

08/31/2017 India (Christian Today) – Christians in the northern Indian district of Haryana and the Punjab are living in fear of attack from followers of the infamous Guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who was convicted of rape on Friday.

Judge Jagdeep Singh sentenced the controversial Indian leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect to 20 years’ imprisonment for the sexual assault of two of his female followers, saying Guru Gurmeet deserved the ‘maximum punishment’ because he had ‘projected himself as a godman and taken undue advantage of his position and authority’.

The judge called him a ‘wild beast’ who deserved no leniency, adding that that the assault of his disciples was ‘custodial rape’ and he ‘deserved maximum punishment’.

The self-styled holy man was found guilty of sexually assaulting two female followers from 1999 to 2002, with prosecutors calling for a life sentence.

A lawyer for the victims said ’40-50 women’ had come forward with allegations of rape.

Now the lead officer for the British Asian Christian Association in India, Pastor Harjot Singh, has warned that Christians are being targeted and described the mood among Christians in the states of Haryana and the Punjab, where a series of riots have erupted in recent days.

‘On hearing about the conviction, followers of Gurmeet rioted in Panchkula [in the Haryana district]. 32 people were killed by fanatical zealots of the sect and an estimated 350 were injured with further riots expected. Rampagers smashed cars, homes and businesses and then set them alight.

‘Christian leaders were warned about attacks on churches should Guru Gurmeet be convicted. The men who made the threats were very serious and extra police protection was provided to religious buildings which prevented a crisis.

‘I call upon Christians across the world to pray for a restoration of peace in India and an end to the unnecessary violence we have seen in recent days.’

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