Indian guru faces up to life in prison in rape case

Thousands of supporters of an Indian quasi-religious sect leader are leaving his headquarters in northern India as authorities relax a curfew a day ahead of his sentencing in a rape case.

They responded to an appeal by authorities to go home after thousands of followers protested the guru's rape conviction with violence that left at least 36 people dead in Panchkula and Sirsa towns in Haryana state on Friday. The guru faces seven years to life in prison.

Police spokesman Surjeet Singh says a curfew imposed in Sirsa town, where the headquarters is located, was relaxed for five hours on Sunday.

The presence of nearly 10,000 people in the guru's headquarters has raised fears they may turn violent again after their leader is sentenced on Monday.